Product stewardship grows globally

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Product stewardship can be expressed in many ways, and there’s no single best definition. According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “[p]roduct stewardship is a product-centered approach to environmental protection. Also known as extended product responsibility (EPR), product stewardship calls on those in the product life cycle -- manufacturers, retailers, users and disposers -- to share responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of products.”

Many, including EPA, believe that manufacturers, because they have the greatest ability to reduce environmental impacts of their products, should shoulder the greatest responsibility. This can be expressed in product design improvements, diminished toxic components included in a product and designing the product for reuse and/or recycle, to name a few.

While product stewardship is a component of good business practices, increasingly it’s more than voluntary. Environmental protection today, particularly in the European Union (EU), more and more focuses on prevention-oriented product regulation, especially on consumer products.  These directives aim to minimize waste by prompting product design changes and requiring product reuse and recycle. In 2000, the EU adopted the precedent-setting End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive (Directive 2000/53/EC). EU member states must develop and implement collection and recycling systems of all ELV and establish reuse and recycle goals. Product design standards mandated that vehicles marketed after July 1, 2003, not contain lead, mercury, cadmium or hexavalent chromium, except as authorized under the Directive.

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