EHS Strategies, Inc.

Practicing and Leveraging Product Stewardship

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Courtesy of EHS Strategies, Inc.

“Product Stewardship” means the product manufacturer is committed to seeing that potential environmental, health and safety (EHS) impacts are properly managed throughout the life cycle of a product – from the materials used to make the product to the manufacturing of the parts and final product, its distribution and use by customers and final disposal. While this is a shared responsibility between all supply chain members, the product users and those who handle any wastes, the product manufacturer has a core role.

What You Need to Know as a Product Manufacturer:

You need to know the properties and hazards associated with all the materials you use and what kinds of exposures are likely within the workplace – yours, your suppliers and your customers. (If the product is used in the home, what kinds of exposures are likely to the user and to others in the home, including pets?) You need to understand the environmental releases that are likely from industrial operations and product use and disposal.

To be a good product steward, you need to:

- Get the best information you can from your suppliers and work with them to minimize EHS concerns for each of you.

- Design processes to minimize hazards and exposures/releases in your workplace and to your customers.

- Minimize waste and releases at the end of the product’s life, as well as within your operations.

- Give the best information to your customers on how to properly manage your products.

Each manufacturer approaches product stewardship differently, depending on its relationships in the supply chain and with customers, and the type of product manufactured. A fully integrated company that takes raw materials to makes final products and distributes those products directly to its customers obviously has a much higher degree of control over EHS management compared to a parts manufacturer or distributor. Industrial products are subject to myriad regulations and control systems that allow informed management. Products sold in big box do-it-yourself stores are not easily controlled. But the same basic actions apply.

Leverage product stewardship to make products with marketing advantage - products that solve problems your customers are concerned with. A strong product stewardship program will also increase your company’s reputation and reward you with greater shareholder, employee and customer loyalty and good relationships with government agencies and the public.

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