Product stewardship is critically important these days as international stewardship initiatives and directives involving specific products – typically consumer products – are sprouting up everywhere. In Europe, for example, several directives are likely to greatly influence global product stewardship. Environmental regulation historically has been expressed through command-and-control mechanisms of governance.
These prescriptive measures have focused on blunting any environmental harm potentially caused by manufacturing operations by limiting or preventing environmental releases generated in connection with manufacturing activities. Although it is true that such measures help greatly in preventing environmental degradation, they do not, according to some, prevent contamination at the core.
The premise underlying product-specific initiatives is to blunt environmental degradation by eliminating the inclusion of potentially harmful components in manufactured goods. That way, the manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of the good is unable to inspire the types of harm that might otherwise arise if the manufactured good included the potentially harmful component, no matter how the good is used, and regardless of how it is disposed after its useful life.