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 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, rate 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.
Consultation on priority waste streams for product stewardship intervention
In 2014 the public was asked if the Government should intervene to improve the management of the following four product waste streams:
- electronic and electrical equipment
- agrichemicals and farm plastics
- refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases.
The public was also asked if:
- the four product waste streams were the right waste streams for potential government intervention
- any of the four products should be declared priority products under the Waste Minimisation Act, which would require a product stewardship scheme to be developed.
The public consultation was held during the months of May to July 2014 with workshops around the country.
See the following links for more information.
- Priority waste streams for product stewardship intervention: A discussion document
- Priority waste streams for product stewardship intervention: Summary of submissions
- Presentation slides: Priority waste streams for product stewardship intervention [PDF, 2.41 MB]
If the Government decides to proceed with any regulatory options, there will be further consultation with affected parties.
The public was also asked for feedback in 2009 on identifying products that are priorities for product stewardship as part of a wider consultation on policy proposals.
Find out more
For further information on the Ministry’s product stewardship work programme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 499 700.
For further information about product stewardship see Development of guidance on extended producer responsibility [European Commission website].