The purpose of product stewardship as set out in the Waste Minimisation Act is to encourage (and in certain circumstances require) people and organisations involved in the life of a product to share responsibility for:
Product stewardship schemes are initiatives that help reduce the environmental impact of manufactured products. When a product stewardship scheme is introduced anyone involved in the product life cycle such as producers, brand owners, importers, retailers and consumers accepts responsibility for its environmental effects.
Product stewardship is a flexible approach that enables the best means of minimising the environmental risks of a product to be considered at the most appropriate stage of its lifecycle.
Mitigating the environmental effects a product can have throughout its lifecycle can mean resources are used more efficiently and responsibly and the product’s end of life impacts are minimised.
The Waste Minimisation Act 2008 helps and, when necessary makes, producers, brand owners, importers, retailers, consumers and other parties take responsibility for the environmental effects of their products through product stewardship schemes. The Waste Minimisation Act gives the Government the ability to recognise and endorse both voluntary and mandatory product stewardship schemes through accreditation.
Product stewardship schemes accredited under the Waste Minimisation Act are listed here.
Existing product stewardship schemes can apply for accreditation under the Act.
If the Minister for the Environment declares a product to be a priority product, a product stewardship scheme must be developed and accredited. In March 2009, the Ministry for the Environment released the Waste Minimisation in New Zealand discussion paper for public consultation. Part of the discussion document requested feedback on potential priority products for product stewardship schemes.
The advantage of an industry-led product stewardship scheme is that the industry has the technical expertise, design knowledge, and understanding of the market to establish an effective scheme. Economies of scale may be gained from establishing a collective scheme but benefits can still be gained from a one company scheme.
With product stewardship, some or all of the environmental costs from a product (such as inefficient resource use or disposal costs) are included in the price (internalised).
Without product stewardship, the costs of the environmental impact from a product are usually borne by society – ratepayers, taxpayers and the environment – rather than the consumer or producer. Even in cases where disposal costs are paid by the consumer this can be an incentive to choose cheaper (to the consumer) disposal methods that still pass costs on to others.
The Ministry for the Environment has a guide that provides more information on Part 2 of the Act Product Stewardship in New Zealand. You can download this guide: A Guide to Product Stewardship in the Waste Minimisation Act (2008)
As well as lessening environment impacts, product stewardship benefits businesses in other ways.
The Ministry for the Environment is currently seeking registrations of interest for product stewardship. This is an opportunity to received information and keep in the loop with any new developments as they come to hand.
Register your interest at the following email address.
Subject line: Registration of interest – product stewardship
Last updated: 16 April 2013