Examples of product stewardship
This term refers to a private, not-for-profit organization that is established to implement and administer programs to recover and manage products at end-of-life. Such organizations may be formed through legislative requirements or voluntarily by interested parties such as manufacturers, retailers, or independent groups. The typical third party organization also collects and administers the fees that fund the product recovery and management programs, which are normally funded by the participants.
Voluntary Example: Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE)
The members of the carpet industry have established a third-party organization known as the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE). The carpet industry will work through CARE to achieve the goals set forth in the National Agreement on Carpet Recycling.
CARE will focus on using market-based solutions for increasing the reuse and recycling of post-consumer carpet. The carpet industry agrees to use CARE to:
- Enhance the collection infrastructure for post-consumer carpet.
- Serve as a resource for technical, economic and market development opportunities for recovered carpet.
- Develop and perform quantitative measurement and reporting on progress toward the Negotiated Outcomes Goals.
- Work collectively to seek and provide funding opportunities for activities to support the Negotiated Outcomes Goals.
CARE will facilitate, advise, provide resources, and be a forum for the many different stakeholders to accomplish its mission.
Voluntary example: Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC)
RBRC was founded in 1994 by manufacturers of rechargeable batteries and battery-containing products - the batteries typically found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers and camcorders. Manufacturers acted in response to mandated manufacturer responsibility requirements for nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries enacted in Minnesota and New Jersey, ultimately establishing a voluntary national program to collect spent rechargeables. Since then, RBRC has expanded their collection to accept other battery chemistries: Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), and small sealed lead batteries.
RBRC is funded by the licensing of the "RBRC Battery Recycling Seal," where licensees pay a fee based on the size of product they sell. Participating companies can use the RBRC seal on their products and packaging, indicating membership. RBRC has grown to over 300 licensees, including manufacturers, resellers, and marketers of rechargeable batteries and products.
In addition to a collection system, RBRC operates a public education campaign to support its efforts. Consumers are told to look for products with the RBRC seal, and call 1-800-8-BATTERY or visit www.rbrc.org to find the closest participating free disposal site, with over 30,000 in the U.S.
Legislated example: British Columbia (BC) Product Care
The original British Columbia, Canada, Paint Care Association was formed as a non-profit organization in 1996. The Ministry of the Environment required companies selling paint in the province to offer consumers free collection services for waste paint. Now known as Product Care, the organization has expanded to other products, including pesticides and petroleum products.
Product Care operates free collection depots spread throughout the province, along with some participating retailers. The program is funded by a separate "eco-fee" that is charged at the point of sale. The fee ensures that all users of a product help pay for the cost of disposing of leftovers safely, and understand their responsibility for proper disposal. The eco-fee is determined by the organization, and is not managed or handled by the government.
Product Care is governed by a board of directors made up of representatives from manufacturers. The association is required to undergo annual, independent audits.
Sony Electronics Inc. partnered with Waste Management, Inc. to provide a provide free take-back of all Sony electronic products in Minnesota. With this five-year recycling agreement in October 2000, Sony became the first manufacturer in the U.S. to be part of such a recycling initiative.
Over 17,000 pounds of consumer electronics were collected in 2001 and 2002, the first two years of the program. Currently there are 14 Waste Management collection sites for this Sony-only program in Minnesota.
"As we continue to create digital products of the future, we must also realize there is a shared responsibility for the products of the past," said Fujio Nishida, Sony Electronics' president and chief operating officer. "Taking back and recycling products helps Sony design future devices that cost less to manufacture and help save our precious natural resources. It's a win-win situation.'