The word stewardship implies responsibility, usually for something owned by someone else. That is the foundation for product stewardship, a program to manage products that we buy when it is time to dispose of them. Manufacturers of these products have the responsibility to create and manage disposal and recycling for the products under a product stewardship plan. This level of involvement by the designers, engineers and manufacturers can extend communication with the recyclers in hopes of implementing more design for the environment.
Additionally, retailers and consumers have responsibility for proper disposal and end of life management. Each stakeholder in the chain of ownership must participate to reach the desired outcome.
In Oregon, we have examples of product stewardship. The Bottle Bill and Oregon eCycles were designed under the structure of a product stewardhip approach. We have the newly enacted paint stewardship pilot program. As this program takes shape, more and more architectural paint will be diverted for either proper disposal or recycling/reuse.
Each of these examples was created under separate product-specific pieces of legislation. In our state and others, there is a desire to create product stewardship framework legislation. This will give us the opportunity to add products that are either high volume and/or high toxicity to that umbrella legislation to create a necessary infrastructure for sound end of life management.