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Product Stewardship

What is Product Stewardship?

Product stewardship is an environmental management approach that places responsibility on a manufacturer and user of a product to manage and minimize the environmental impact of a product throughout the product's life cycle. Under a product stewardship approach, the manufacturer of the product generally has the burden of responsibility to implement an environmentally sound collection, transportation and recycling program for its products. That said, product stewardship is a shared responsibility and other stakeholders play a role in ensuring the program is environmentally sound, including consumers, retailers, waste haulers and recyclers.

Product Stewardship Approaches

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a mandatory approach that includes, at a minimum, the requirement that the producer's responsibility for their product extends to post-consumer management of that product and its packaging. EPR shifts the financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, to the producer and away from the consumer. EPR also incentivizes producers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging including weight, ease of recyclability, use of less toxic materials and minimizing packaging to name a few.

An assessment fee approach places the responsibility of collection, transportation and recycling on the manufacturer or an organization acting of behalf of manufacturers, but is funded through a fee payed by consumers at the time of purchase.

In some instances, manufacturers will voluntarily implement a product stewardship plan. This approach is not regulated by government oversight and only includes those producers who sign up to be members. This approach is often undertaken by producers as a means to ward off a mandatory EPR approach.

NYS Product Stewardship Programs

New York State has adopted into law product stewardship requirements for a number of problem wastes. These include the following:

Other Takeback Programs

New York State has a number of takeback programs that are not true product stewardship programs but include a number of the same components. These include:

National Product Stewardship Programs

In addition to New York State's efforts there are a number of national voluntary product stewardship programs already in place. They include:

Rechargeable Batteries: The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC)(leaves DEC webiste) has established a national take back program for rechargeable batteries as well as cell phones.

Mercury-Containing Auto Switches: These switches can be collected through a national take back program called the End-of-Life Vehicle Switch collection program or (ELVS)(leaves DEC website). ELVS has contracted with a national environmental services company to facilitate dismantlers/recyclers removal of automotive mercury switches prior to a vehicle being scrapped.

Mercury-Containing Thermostats: The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC)(leaves DEC website) has established a national take back program for mercury-containing thermostats.

Other Product Stewardship Links

CalRecycle Extended Producer Responsibility (leaves DEC website): This website contains case studies on product stewardship programs for selected products; comparisons of product stewardship vs. government-run programs; reports; and information on jobs. There are also tools such as a sample table of suggested metrics for program measurement, tracking, and evaluation, and an Excel-based jobs analysis tool.

Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)(leaves DEC website): This link also contains links to regional and state product stewardship councils including New York State's.

UPSTREAM (leaves DEC website): This link also contains links to regional and state product stewardship councils including New York State's.

California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC)(leaves DEC website): This link also contains links to regional and state product stewardship councils including New York State's.

State of Maine Product Stewardship Program (leaves DEC website)