About product stewardship in New Zealand

This page describes what product stewardship is, how it works and how schemes can be endorsed under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008.

What is product stewardship?

Product stewardship is the responsible management of the environmental impact of a product. It aims to reduce the impact of manufactured products at all stages of the product life cycle.

How product stewardship schemes work

Under a product stewardship scheme, any party involved in the life of a product (eg, a producer, brand owner, importer, retailer or consumer) may accept responsibility for reducing the product’s environmental impacts. 

For producers, this may mean designing products so they can be broken down into recyclable or reusable components. For retailers and consumers it may mean taking an active role in the responsible disposal or recycling of a product.

In a product stewardship scheme some or all of the environmental costs from a product (eg, inefficient resource use or disposal costs) are included in the product’s price. The consumer pays for product stewardship in the price of the product they choose to buy.

Without product stewardship, the costs of the environmental impact from a product are carried by society (eg, ratepayers and taxpayers) and the environment rather than by the consumer or producer. 

Product stewardship and the Waste Minimisation Act 2008

Under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, the Minister for the Environment can declare a product to be a priority product. 

When this happens a product stewardship scheme must be developed and accredited.

See the Mandatory product stewardship web page.

Find out more

For further information on the Ministry’s product stewardship work programme, please email PSAccreditation@mfe.govt.nz.

For further information about product stewardship see Development of guidance on extended producer responsibility [European Commission website].