Product stewardship means whoever designs, produces, sells, or uses a product takes responsibility for minimizing its environmental impact through all stages of the product’s life cycle. Producers of technological goods have always passed the cost of disposal onto local and state waste municipalities. Local government, plagued by many unfunded mandates and lack of enforcement ability, want and need product stewardship laws in place. This constant strain has created tensions between the private and public sectors. The movement tries to change the way in which manufacturers and producers design, transport, and dispose of material. Producer responsibility addresses multiple issues – solid waste, hazardous waste, resource depletion, storm water, ocean litter, climate change, waste water, public health, and energy usage. Externalization are costs of business that firms do not account for in operation; this leaves government responsible for cleaning up the mess that private corporations make. Pollution by oil refineries, steel manufacturers, and coal plants is a very common externally, that is now regulated and controlled through legislation and mandates. Product stewardship’s goal is just that – regulate the system to ensure minimal environmental impact.
Consider the number of technological devices you, the viewer and hosts, use personally – cell phones, gaming systems, home computers, work computers, televisions, stereos, movie players, appliances, batteries, etc. Now think nationally and globally about the issue. This somewhat puts the issue into perspective and we can understand the need to address the issue.
To date, 19 states have adopted “producer take-back” laws requiring the manufacturers to pay for the collection and recycling of old products.
2007 Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina
2008 New Jersey, New York City, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia, Missouri, Hawaii, Rhode Island Illinois, Michigan