Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility are systemic approaches to reduce the life-cycle environmental and societal impacts of products and packaging.
Product Stewardship is the act of minimizing the health, environmental, and social impacts of a product and its packaging throughout its life cycle. The producer of the product has the greatest ability to minimize adverse impacts, but other stakeholders such as suppliers, retailers, and consumers also play a role.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a product stewardship policy approach that makes consumer goods companies responsible for managing their products and packaging when consumers are finished with them. EPR policy has two related features: (1) shifting financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, upstream to the producer and away from the public sector; and (2) providing incentives to producers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging.
With extended producer responsibility, manufacturers have incentives to design their products to use less material, less toxics, and be recycled at the end of their useful life – turning what was formerly “waste” into the “food” for industry and the next generation of products.
UPSTREAM was the first national organization to widely promote extended producer responsibility as a transformative solution to our production and consumption problems. While there are many organizations working on EPR policy, we are the only national organization with a public-interest focus working for comprehensive EPR policy reform in the United States today.