Product Stewardship Councils are organizations of local government officials working for producer responsibility to reduce public costs, increase accessibility to services, and drive improvements that promote environmental sustainability.
Local governments were assigned responsibility for solid waste disposal a century ago, and for recycling a generation ago. Because they are at the back end of our unsustainable production and consumption systems, they are pivotal players in the transition to sustainable materials management. Today, municipal recycling programs are fragmented, collection rates have plateaued, and local governments are financially stressed. However, local governments are organizing to change this by pushing accountability for waste upstream.
With UPSTREAM’s support, local governments formed independent state-based Product Stewardship Councils. These Councils formed to shift our waste management system from one focused on government-funded waste disposal and diversion – to one that relies on producer responsibility to reduce public costs, increase accessibility to services, and drive improvements in product design and management that promote environmental sustainability.
Educating and Advocating for Extended Producer Responsibility
Product Stewardship Councils educate their members about product stewardship and extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies, and advocate for effective legislation at the state level. UPSTREAM helped create eight of the Councils and co-coordinates their activity. UPSTREAM also helped Councils create policies and outreach materials including brochures, fact sheets and videos that can be used by any local government to raise awareness and support corporate accountability for waste.
Local Government Actions
Local governments are reevaluating their roles in picking up after the waste of consumer goods companies. Beyond organizing to support EPR legislation, they are also integrating environmentally-preferable purchasing, passing local resolutions, and exploring ways to use municipal planning functions to encourage the development of private collection infrastructure for hard-to-manage products and packaging.