Presenters: John Gertsakis, Infoactiv Logistics Solutions

Presentation title: The product stewardship 2.0 imperative

Many Product Stewardship programs across the globe are in danger of becoming simplistic end-of-pipe solutions that are overly focused on collecting waste and relatively primitive materials recovery.   This paper discusses the need to recalibrate the definition and application of Product Stewardship is a priority, as is the need to seriously consider waste avoidance outcomes well ahead of end-of-life recycling. At Infoactiv we call this step-change imperative Product Stewardship 2.0 as we work with our customers and partners to maximise true sustainability benefits.  Whatever happened to the cost-shifting objective associated with Product Stewardship and EPR, and ensuring that producers pay for externalities rather than local councils and their communities? Many local councils continue to be economically stressed as they continue to subsidise schemes that manufacturers are purportedly funding.  While Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) are often used interchangeably, the theory tells us that there are differences, some widely accepted, while others concocted on the basis of regional or ideological grounds.   It is fair to say that useful examples can be found of where Product Stewardship programs have indeed informed new product development, especially in the commercial furniture, auto and packaging industries, however local councils and public funds are used to partly cover the cost of ‘industry-funded’ schemes.   Whether we call it EPR or Product Stewardship, there are glaring gaps in its implementation. The imperatives are clear: equitable cost-sharing, greater retailer involvement, more direct feedback loops for improved design, and coherent internalisation of all externalities. We can all do much to advance the performance of Product Stewardship schemes, and to achieve significant socio-environmental benefit.   In summary this paper will overview the journey to date via several case studies and highlight the importance of Product Stewardship as one tool among several that can go beyond collecting and recycling materials.

Event: WasteMINZ Conference 2014
Date: Wednesday 23 October 2014