What is product stewardship?
We all need to help reduce the impacts of manufactured products on our environment. When a producer, brand owner, importer, retailer or consumer accepts responsibility for reducing a product’s environmental impact, we call this product stewardship.
Product stewardship helps us transition from a linear to a circular economy.
Linear economy: Natural resources-take-make-dispose-waste. Technical & biological materials mixed up. Energy from finite sources.
Circular economy: Biological materials: Image of a Make-Consume-Enrich cycle. Technical material: Image of a Make-use-return cycle
Taking responsibility may range from designing a product which can be broken down into recyclable or reusable components to responsible disposal or recycling of a product.
You might not realise it, but most – if not all – New Zealanders routinely interact with product stewardship schemes.
For example when:
- you put your glass bottles out for kerbside recycling or use recycling bins in public places
- your children drink milk at school through the Fonterra Milk in Schools programme
- you purchase New Zealand-grown produce (one quarter of all farmers are involved in one or more product stewardship schemes).
Schemes cover everything from paint to carpet tiles, mobile phones to toner cartridges.
Guidance on developing a product stewardship scheme
Fuji Xerox has a roadmap [PDF, 500 KB] on developing a product stewardship scheme. It has a focus on developing circular economy products. The Ministry, accredited product stewardship scheme managers and the Sustainable Business Network contributed to the roadmap.
Over 350 New Zealand companies and other organisations participate in one or more product stewardship schemes that are Government accredited. Collectively, these schemes have diverted more than 1.3 million tonnes of waste from landfill.
Find out more
For further information on the Ministry’s product stewardship work programme, please email PSAccreditation@mfe.govt.nz.