Sunday, June 20, 2010

Swimming Upstream: Product Stewardship and the Promise of Green Design

One of the major rationales for extended producer responsibility policy approach is the promise of promise of influencing product and packaging design. David Stitzhal (PPI Vice President and principal of Full Circle Consulting) has produced an excellent white paper for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Product Stewardship Stakeholder Group.

Here’s a summary of Swimming Upstream: Product Stewardship and the Promise of Green Design

Product‐oriented policies reflect an awareness of – and an attempt to address – the impacts products have at end of life, as well as throughout the product’s life‐cycle. Ideally, such product stewardship policies establish built‐in mechanisms and incentives that minimize environmental impact at time of disposal, as well as during design, production, transport and other life‐cycle stages. This is often achieved by building the costs of such impacts into the consumer‐manufacturer transaction, rather than covering such costs through solid waste rates and taxes.
Many mechanisms exist and are emerging that establish level regulatory playing fields, thus allowing industry to compete on improving their environmental footprint, rather than simply cost and performance. These mechanisms rely on different engines, ranging from leveraging purchasing power (EPEAT, Top Runner) to restricting materials (RoHS, food service packaging), to requiring manufacturer take-back (Paint, EWaste). These approaches provide lessons and experience from which Oregon can draw when exploring continued product‐oriented policies as a tool for decreasing waste and toxicity in the State. Several lessons and policy recommendations are suggested.

Links to the Oregon DEQ site -- and to several other important papers on the subject -- are posted at

Graphic from

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New blog from the front lines of Product Stewardship in Maine

When it comes to EPR, the state of Maine has bragging rights for passing the first extended producer responsibility "framework" legislation in the United States.  Now that bill’s author, Maine Rep. Melissa Walsh Innes (D-Yarmouth), has started her own blog to share her contemplations about product stewardship.

Monday, June 14, 2010

U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Producer Responsibility Resolution

“Hat Trick” of National Associations of Elected Officials 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) joined the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties in adopting a resolution calling for state and federal producer responsibility legislation that shifts the costs of managing problematic product and packaging waste away from taxpayers and local governments to producers and the consumers of their products.  

The USCM resolution, adopted at their annual meeting in Oklahoma City on June 14th, is based on a model developed by the Product Policy Institute (PPI) that has been adopted by 96 local jurisdictions and local government associations in California since 2006, as well as by jurisdictions in New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas. 

“Product Policy Institute has been working with governments for seven years to find solutions to the mounting burden of product and packaging waste facing communities,” said Product Policy Institute Executive Director Bill Sheehan. “Today the U.S. Conference of Mayors planted their flag in the waste pile and said, “no more.”  They asked product manufacturers to take primary responsibility for their toxic and non-recyclable products.  We’re proud of their leadership on this issue.”

USCM is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more, promoting effective national urban/suburban policy.  The USCM resolution supports state and federal producer responsibility legislation that levels the playing field for corporations that take “cradle-to-cradle” responsibility for their products and packaging, and urges Congress support the ability of state governments to establish producer responsibility legislation.

The USCM resolution lead sponsor was Mayor Christopher Cabaldon of West Sacramento, California - whose city adopted a similar resolution in 2009.  The list of signers included five U.S. states:
·      The Honorable Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento, California
·      The Honorable Mike McGinn, Mayor of Seattle, Washington
·      The Honorable David Maher, Mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts
·      The Honorable Patrick Hayes, Mayor of North Little Rock, Arkansas
·      The Honorable Mark Burroughs, Mayor of Denton, Texas
·      The Honorable Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California

“Local governments are in serious financial trouble and can better use resources currently going to manage waste products like batteries, needles and fluorescent lamps to fund police, fire and basic public health services,” said Mayor Cabaldon.  “We need manufacturers to take responsibility for what they make, not leave it to the taxpayers and ratepayers to clean-up the mess at very high costs.

National associations of elected officials representing cities and counties have already adopted producer responsibility resolutions. The National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties both adopted resolutions last year.

The resolutions are part of a movement that calls for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), also known as Product Stewardship.  EPR is a policy approach common in Europe, Japan, Canada and other industrialized nations but relatively new to the United States.  In the US, 22 states now have laws for discarded electronic products that require producers to finance or manage collection and provide responsible recycling.

“We cannot continue to expect government and taxpayers to design, fund and manage every product sold, said Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of the California Product Stewardship Council.  “Taxpayers and garbage ratepayers have hit their limit and so have our landfills! Requiring producers of problem products like batteries and fluorescent lamps pay for their recovery, utilizes free-market competitive forces to drive down recycling costs and creates jobs in the private sector, not in the public sector.”

Product Policy Institute has been leading the producer responsibility movement by conducting research and education on product stewardship, and by helping local and state government officials and other stakeholders like national associations work collaboratively towards this policy approach.  PPI helped local governments organize Product Stewardship Councils in California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts and Vermont; the Councils serve as hubs that bring together all stakeholders to develop sustainable solutions based on the framework principles.

More information:

·      Link to USCM resolution on Product Policy Institute’s producer responsibility resolutions web page:

·      Link to extended producer responsibility background:

·      Link to Joint Framework Principles for Product Stewardship Policy

·      Link to US Conference of Mayors: