Product Stewardship is an environmental management strategy that means whoever designs, produces, sells, or uses a product takes responsibility for minimizing the product's environmental impact throughout all stages of the products' life cycle. The greatest responsibility lies with whoever has the most ability to affect the life cycle environmental impacts of the product.
The Local Hazardous Waste Management Program or LHWMP endorses product stewardship principles as a management strategy because in the current waste management system, all the responsibility for managing toxic products falls to local government and ratepayers, even if they don’t use the products. The manufacturers who designed and marketed the products are not part of the disposal or recycling system. Product stewardship programs require producers to finance, collect, transport and responsibly recycle or dispose of their products at end of life. Product stewardship programs are being implemented in Canada, Europe, Asia and other parts of the world – including here in King County.
The Take it Back Network is a partnership among retailers, repair shops, charitable organizations, recyclers and government agencies that provides consumers with safe and convenient recycling options for products that contain hazardous components. The program accepts fluorescent bulbs and tubes from residents and businesses for a fee. For a list of locations to take your bulbs and tubes visit the Take it Back Network.
The Unwanted Medicine Return program accepts unwanted medicines from residents at 37 take-back locations in Washington.
Recently, LHWMP worked to pass state legislation to create permanent, safe, secure, producer financed programs for unwanted medicines and mercury lighting products. Legislation is needed to ensure that all producers are subject to the same requirements. Governments’ role is to oversee the program, ensure convenience for consumers and protect people and the environment. The producer’s role is to set up and finance the program.
This legislation known as the Secure Medicine Return bill, made progress through the House in 2009 and will be run again in the 2010 session.
This legislation known as the Product Stewardship Recycling Act for Mercury-Containing Lights also made progress through the House in 2009 and will be run again in the 2010 session.
For more information about both bills, contact Margaret Shield, LHWMP Policy Liaison, at email@example.com or 206-263-3059.
LHWMP participates in the Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC) a coalition of government organizations in Washington and Oregon that operates as an unincorporated association of members and is comprised of a Steering Committee, Associates and Subcommittees. The mission of the Council is to integrate product stewardship principles into the policy and economic structures of the Pacific Northwest.
LHWMP also participates in product stewardship efforts that address paint, packaging, automotive products, other mercury-containing products, electronics and chemicals.
LHWMP staff serve on the Product Stewardship Institute’s (PSI) board of directors and actively participate in PSI work groups, planning, research, pilot projects and coordination efforts.