Taking an active role is the best way to manage and responsibly dispose of (or recycle) an end-of-life product. Samantha Cross takes a closer look at what is product stewardship.
As we delve into the world of waste and the best way to tackle its reduction, we can explore the ethics that embody responsible planning and management of the impacts for different products and materials, specifically product stewardship.
Defining Product Stewardship
Product stewardship is the idea that everyone in the product supply chain takes responsibility for minimising the environmental impact of a product over its life-cycle. It acknowledges those involved in manufacturing, retailing, consuming, transporting and disposing or recycling of products that have a shared responsibility.
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 provides the framework to effectively manage the environmental, health and safety impacts of products. The framework includes voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory product stewardship.
Voluntary product stewardship can take many forms and may have a focus on a product’s whole lifecycle or may focus on fixing a specific problem related to part of its lifecycle, such as how products are disposed of at end of life. More and more, organisations are participating in voluntary product stewardship as part of their environmental or corporate strategies and obligations.
Product Stewardship Programs
There are already several well-established product stewardship arrangements being undertaken across Australia achieving positive outcomes. You may be familiar with MobileMuster, DrumMuster, mercury-containing lamps collected under the FluoroCycle scheme, Cartridges 4 Planet Ark and more recently PaintBack to collect and recycle architectural and decorative paint.
A review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 will commence shortly. Input will be sought from industry, governments and the general public to safeguard the ongoing effectiveness of the act to ensure it’s delivering the best outcomes for business and the environment.
A recent initiative in the product stewardship space is the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH) engaging the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP) and Helen Lewis Research to explore opportunities to promote and facilitate product stewardship collaboration.
The Product Stewardship Cluster
As a result, a product stewardship cluster has been established with representation from existing and emerging product stewardship schemes, organisations, government and other industry stakeholders. Cross Connections is excited to be an active member within this emerging cluster group.
Although initiated in NSW, this cluster has interstate participation and national relevance.
The fundamental aims of the product stewardship cluster are:
- Facilitation: To identify projects that could improve the sustainability of specific products or materials through collaborative action and shared funding.
- Resource recovery innovation: To develop models and projects that promote cross-collaboration to deliver net positive environmental outcomes.
- Education: To promote the importance and value of a lifecycle and design sustainability approach to supply chain management.
- Collaborative leadership: Facilitate engagement between key stakeholders to drive product stewardship and circular economy initiatives that support sustainable development goals.
- Networking: To create a network of organisations with an interest in product stewardship to explore synergies and business opportunities.
Current information and developing tools are available to help you and your business to understand the benefits of product stewardship and a lifecycle approach to the products you manufacture or supply in the market.
Cross Connections Consulting