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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Operations > Standard Operating Procedures for Green and Sustainable Business Operations > Pollution Prevention > Pollution Prevention - P2

Product Stewardship

Product stewardship is a product-centered approach to environmental protection that involves design, production, retailing and consumer behaviors.

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Product stewardship is more than recycling, it's sustainability.

Product stewardship is a product-centered approach to environmental protection. It calls on those in the product lifecycle—manufacturers, retailers, users, and disposers -- to share responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of products. The EPA "Product Stewardship" website highlights the latest developments in product stewardship and provides numerous links to other sources of information.

Some products cause more environmental problems than others. The products that are being addressed for immediate pollution prevention include:

Herman Miller, Inc.'s "Mirra Chair" was the first product designed utilizing Herman Miller's stringent Design for the Environment protocols, which examines the chair design for recyclability, material chemistry, manufacturability, packaging requirements, and ease of disassembly.
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Packaging
  • Carpet
  • Mercury-containing products
  • Vehicles
  • Building materials
  • Paint
  • Pesticides
  • Propane Tanks and Gas Canisters
  • Radioactive Materials
Electronic products are at the forefront of the move to recycle and reduce used equipment and supplies. Industry, government, and environmental organizations are working together to find new users for idle computers and electronics, and responsibly recycle unwanted products. Many electronics manufacturers and retailers such as Panasonic, Sony, Sharp, Lexmark, Xerox, Hewlett Packard (HP), Dell, Apple, Epson , Gateway, Staples, Office Depot, Good Guys, Best Buy, have initiatives that reflect a shared responsibility approach to managing electronics—either via greener design or asset recovery and recycling programs.

California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota have enacted legislation to ban CRTs of any kind from disposal in municipal solid waste landfills.

Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003:
California has enacted landmark legislation to establish a funding system for the collection and recycling of certain electronic wastes (ncluding computers, monitors and cell phones). The California Integrated Waste Management Board adopted new emergency regulations to implement portions of the statute. Starting in 2005, retailers collect the Electronic Waste Recycling Fee on covered electronic devices from consumers.

Product Stewardship Institute

"Product stewardship" is a principle that directs all participants involved in the life cycle of a product to take shared responsibility for the impacts to human health and the natural environment that result from the production, use, and end-of-life management of the product.

The objective of The Product Stewardship Institute is to encourage manufacturers to redesign products with fewer toxics, and to make them more durable, reusable, and recyclable, and with recycled materials. Since waste disposal impacts and associated costs have been the basis for engaging manufacturers, attention has initially focused on waste management problems and solutions. However, the challenge of product stewardship is to move beyond disposal to facilitate a paradigm shift toward "zero waste" and “sustainable production."

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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