Product stewardship is about taking responsibility for the environmental effects of a manufactured product, and aiming to reduce the impact at relevant stages in its value chain.
Product stewardship schemes are 'cradle to grave' tools that help to reduce the environmental impact of manufactured products. This can drive cost reduction through efficiencies, improved brand, waste reduction and innovation in product design.
These schemes recognise that environmental impacts occur across a product's value chain and that all organisations and consumers have a role to play to reduce them.
The schemes aim to avoid the costs of the environmental impacts of a product (especially the disposal) being borne by wider society through, for example, taxes and rates to landfill. Instead, it focuses on making changes at more appropriate points in the value chain.
Schemes may be voluntary or mandatory and generally need to involve everyone in the products' value chain including producers, brand owners, importers, retailers, customers/consumers and recyclers. Product stewardship approaches can be flexible so that the environmental impact of a product can be addressed where the greatest risk occurs.