Product Stewardship

Product Stewardship is the act of minimizing health, safety, environmental, and social impacts, and maximizing economic benefits of a product and its packaging throughout all life cycle stages. The producer of the product has the greatest ability to minimize adverse impacts, but other stakeholders, such as suppliers, retailers, and consumers, also play a role. Stewardship can be either voluntary or required by law. Stewardship efforts generally begin with the most toxic and/or voluminous of materials. The Product Stewardship Institute is a national organization committed to these principles. 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): A mandatory type of product stewardship that includes, at a minimum, the requirement that the producer's responsibility for their product extends to post-consumer management of that product and its packaging. There are two related features of EPR policy: 

  1. Shifting financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, upstream to the producer and away from the public sector
  2. Providing incentives to producers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging. 

The principles of extended producer responsibility include key elements that should be included in all EPR legislation. Although these principles will be applied differently by different jurisdictions, they are aspirational and considered best practice to achieve maximum results. 

Producer Responsibility: Producers are required to design, manage, and finance programs for end-of-life management of their products and packaging as a condition of sale. These programs may or may not use existing collection and processing infrastructure. Programs should cover all products in a given category, including those from companies no longer in business and from companies that cannot be identified. 

Level Playing Field: All producers within a particular product category have the same requirements, whether they choose to meet them individually or jointly with other producers. 

Results-Based: Producers have flexibility to design the product management system to meet the performance goals established by government, with minimum government involvement. Producer-managed systems must follow the resource conservation hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle, and beneficially use as appropriate. Products must be managed in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment. Producers design and implement public education programs to ensure achievement of performance goals and standards established by government. All consumers have convenient access to collection opportunities without charge. 

Transparency and Accountability: Government is responsible for ensuring that producer programs are transparent and accountable to the public. Producer programs, including their development and the fate of products managed, provide opportunity for input by all stakeholders. 

Roles for Government, Retailers, and Consumers: Government is responsible for ensuing a level playing field for all parties in the product value chain to maintain a competitive marketplace with open access to all, for setting and enforcing performance goals and standards, for supporting industry programs through procurement, and for helping educate the public. Retailers only sell brands within a covered product category that are made by producers participating in an industry program, and are responsible for providing information to consumers on how to access the programs. Consumers have a responsibility to reduce waste, reduce reuse products, use take-back and other collection programs, and make appropriate purchasing decisions based on available information about product impacts and benefits. 

See the following report for more detailed information: 
Elements of a Best in Class Recycling Program

The Product Stewardship Institute has a whole list of products being considered through this approach. These are some examples in Michigan: 


Electronics, such as TVs, computers, monitors, cell phones, and tablets, contain valuable metals and components that can be used again in another manufacturing process. But they also contain potentially hazardous cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, chromium, barium, beryllium, and brominated flame-retardant components that can pollute water and air resources without proper disposal or recycling. E-waste did not even exist as a waste stream in 1989 and now it's one of the largest and growing exponentially. Michigan law requires manufacturers and distributors of electronic products to provide free and convenient recycling options for its consumers. 

Dell Reconnect teams up with Goodwill to provide recycling options for computers and TVs. The State Electronics Challenge provides helpful information about reducing the environmental impact of computers throughout their life. Retailers such as Best Buy and Staples often offer periodic collections for the electronic products they sell. For other recycling and reuse resources, refer to Earth911 or call your local recycling contact

Protect your privacy by removing your data from whatever you're donating or recycling with these handy tips



Funding Paint Recycling in Michigan

We are helping to organize and raise awareness about potential paint recycling solutions in Michigan. Check this page for updates on where we are at in the process! 

Paint Recycilng Issues in Michigan

The current system for managing unused architectural paint in Michigan places the burden of proper disposal and recycling of unused paint on local government. The American Coatings Association and the U.S. EPA estimate that 10 percent of all architectural paint sold each year in Michigan goes unused. 

Currently, most Michigan residents do not have access to convenient paint collection and recycling opportunities, so millions of gallons of unused paint are either being disposed of through the municipal solid waste stream, collected by a local household hazardous waste (HHW) program at the expense of the local government, stockpiled by he consumer, or simply released into the environment These behaviors result in costs to society in the form of environmental impacts associated with landfilling or dumping unused paint and disposal costs to the local HHW collection program. 

The cost to properly manage unused paint is $8 per gallon to the publicly operated HHW program. Nationally, post-consumer paint is the largest component of local HHW collection programs at 50% of total collected materials by weight. Properly collected, unused paint is a highly reusable and recyclable material that is converted to products ranging from new paint, plastics, and cement additives or burned for energy. 

Improving Paint Recycling in Michigan

Michigan has a unique opportunity to enact paint stewardship legislation in partnership with the paint industry. This opportunity to work together to save money for Michigan's state and local governments is the result of a national, multi-stakeholder agreement facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute

PSI and ACA PaintCare Michigan Fact Sheet

Informational Webinar