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

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