Organizations Unify Definitions of EPR, Stewardship
Three product stewardship organizations have come to an agreement on key definitions for extended producer responsibility programs.
During the past year, the California Product Stewardship Council, the Product Policy Institute and the Product Stewardship Institute have met to harmonize each group's guiding principles, which are expressed in this document.
In the document, product stewardship is defined as "the act of minimizing health, safety, environmental and social impacts, and maximizing economic benefits of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages." Broadly, it encompasses the entire lifecycle of covered items and their packaging. The word "social" is included in the definition of product stewardship to express concerns about issues such as child labor and material handling.
Extended producer responsibility is defined more narrowly as a government policy concerning the post-consumer state of covered products. The document says EPR's key features are shifting financial and management responsibility with government oversight, and incentives to incorporate environmental provisions. The document also outlines key principles of EPR, including a level playing field for product requirements, a results-based management system, transparency and accountability, and clearly defined roles for government, retailers and consumers.
The three organizations sought to clarify the terminology, and bring their respective principles in alignment, over concerns that the nebulous definitions were befuddling stakeholders and being used to block EPR legislation at the state level.