Product stewardship

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.

HTML icon Residential and Commercial Carpet Case Study: The Potential Impacts of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in California on Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Estimates the life-cycle greenhouse emissions associated with the production, transport, and disposal of carpets consumed by California residential and commercial buildings, and the potential for reducing these emissions through improvements to product design, manufacturing, and end-of-life product management.

HTML icon California carpet stewardship program

PDF icon Overview of carpet product stewardship initiative in Minnesota

HTML icon CARE - Carpet America Recovery Effort

Advancing market-based solutions that increase landfill diversion and recycling of post-consumer carpet, encourage design for recyclability and meet meaningful goals as approved by the CARE Board of Directors.


PDF icon Product stewardship for Mercury-containing lamps in Minnesota

Summary of efforts to manage mercury-containing lamps in Minnesota and other states.

LightRecycle Washington

HTML icon Washington Mercury-Containing Lights Product Stewardship Program

In 2010 Washington established a producer-financed product stewardship program for the collection, transportation and recycling of mercury-containing lights.

PDF icon Vermont extended producer responsibility requirements for collection and recycling of mercury-containing lamps

Vermont's Department of Environmental Conservation oversees administration and enforcement of the law.

HTML icon Maine's plan for recycling of household mercury-added lamps

Maine law requires manufacturers of mercury-added lamps to provide residents with a free, convenient recycling program for household mercury-added lamps.

HTML icon Call2Recycle - Licensing

Licensees/Industry Stewards financially support the Call2Recycle program through the licensing and placement of battery seals on their rechargeable batteries and/or battery-powered products.

Binary Data Corporation for Battery Recycling

Binary Data General and special purpose battery requirements (325E.125)

HTML icon Mercury-containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996 (Battery Act)

This federal law phases out the use of mercury in batteries and provides for the efficient and cost-effective disposal of used batteries, including nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd), used small sealed lead-acid (SSLA) batteries. The statute applies to battery and product manufacturers, waste handlers, and select importers and retailers.

Binary Data Rechargeable batteries and products (115A.9157)

PDF icon Product Stewardship for Batteries in Minnesota

Summary of efforts to manage waste primary and secondary batteries in Minnesota and other states.

HTML icon Single-Use Alkaline Battery Case Study: The Potential Impacts of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in California on Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Assesses the extent to which single-use alkaline battery life cycle greenhouse gas emissions might be reduced through possible product design, manufacturing, and end-of-life management strategies introduced under a producer’s EPR initiatives.

Discussion of mattresses in the 2015 Solid Waste Policy Report.

Binary Data Mattress Recycling Council

A non-profit organization formed by the industry to operate recycling programs (called Bye Bye Mattress) in states that have enacted mattress recycling laws.

HTML icon Mattress and box spring case study: The potential impacts of extended producer responsibility (EPR) in California on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Assesses the energy and greenhouse gas implications of using different end-of-life management methods for mattresses and box springs.


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:

Amanda Cotton, 651-757-2211

John Gilkeson, 651-757-2391