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Product stewardship

Principles | MPCA Efforts

Product StewardshipProduct stewardship means that all parties involved in designing, manufacturing, selling and using a product take responsibility for environmental impacts at every stage of that product's life.

In particular, product stewardship requires manufacturers to share in the financial and physical responsibility for collecting and recycling products at the end of their useful lives. When manufacturers share the costs of recycling products, they have an incentive to use recycled materials in new products and design products to be less toxic and easier to recycle, incorporating environmental concerns into the earliest phases of product design.

Product stewardship encourages manufacturers, retailers and consumers to treat products as resources rather than waste, changing how they think about the products they make, buy and use.


Minnesota passed legislation in 2013 establishing a new product stewardship program for architectural paint.


Mercury (lamps)



Principles of product stewardship

  1. All parties who have a role in designing, producing, or selling a product or product components assume responsibility for achieving the following goals:
    • Reducing or eliminating the toxic and hazardous constituents of products and product components.
    • Reducing the toxicity and amount of waste that results from the manufacture, use and disposal of products.
    • Using materials, energy and water efficiently at every stage of a product's life cycle, including product manufacture, distribution, sale, use and recovery.
  2. All purchasers and users are responsible for reducing the amount of toxicity and waste that result from their use and disposal of products, and for using products in a manner that conserves resources.
  3. The greater the ability of a party to influence the life-cycle impacts of the product, the greater the degree of responsibility the party has for addressing those impacts.
  4. Parties responsible for addressing environmental impacts of products have flexibility in determining how to best address those impacts.
  5. The costs of recovering resources and managing products at the end of life are internalized into the costs of producing and selling products, so that those costs are not paid for by government.
  6. Government provides leadership in product stewardship in all its activities, including but not limited to, promoting product stewardship in purchasing products, making capital investments in buildings and infrastructure, procuring services, and ensuring products are recycled or properly managed at the end of their useful lives.

Minnesota and product stewardship

In 1999, the state of Minnesota adopted the first product stewardship policy in the United States. In general, the state has chosen to pursue the product stewardship objectives articulated in the policy through voluntary efforts.

Policy development

The MPCA is working with the Minnesota Legislature, state agencies and other stakeholders to promote the development of product stewardship policies.

Nationally, many organizations are endorsing the principles of product stewardship.

Industry-wide commitments

The MPCA is committed to working cooperatively with businesses, non-governmental organizations, retailers and others to develop voluntary commitments to increase the collection and recycling of identified consumer products. In 2001, Minnesota participated in an effort with the state governments, U.S. EPA, and the carpet industry to develop the first national product stewardship agreement in the U.S. MPCA will continue to identify opportunities to promote product stewardship in this manner.

Demonstration projects

The MPCA is interested in developing partnerships with manufacturers, retailers and local governments to test various product stewardship models.

Support for manufacturer initiatives

The MPCA promotes product stewardship through support for manufacturers' initiatives. For instance, Sony Corporation's national recycling program for Sony-branded consumer electronics grew out of a program they first tested in Minnesota.


Procurement by government agencies and large commercial entities offers an important avenue to support product stewardship objectives. MPCA is working with purchasers to incorporate product stewardship into their specifications. For example, the state is promoting contract language that requires carpet manufacturers to assume responsibility for recycling old carpet when new carpet is installed.

Program contact

For more information on Minnesota's product stewardship efforts:

Garth Hickle
Product Stewardship Team Leader
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
651-757-2434 or

Last modified on February 05, 2015 12:02