Is EPR Coming to Your State? A Product Stewardship Primer, Climate Champ-PSI, Australian PS Awards

by | Dec 8, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Is EPR coming to your state? Plus, a product stewardship primer. climate champion-the Product Stewardship Institute, and Australia’s  product stewardship awards!



It’s possible that some of you out there who aren’t New Yorkers or Mainers might be jealous of the EPR legislation those two states are fighting to pass or have passed. But before you get too much of the green envy, just know there are other states out there who have fought, or are fighting the good fight.

California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington join Maine and New York as states pushing for EPR legislation. Not all of this legislation is successful, the first or even the second time around. California’s “Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act” died in committee earlier this year. And it’s one of three other pieces of similar legislation introduced in the Golden State that have met similar fates. Maryland’s EPR bill also died in committee, as has apparently Hawaii’s two measures.

Given the currently abysmal pass rate for EPR law, why should EPR matter to us?

First of all, they’re not new. EPR programs already exist in the U.S. for a variety of products like paint, carpet, batteries, mattresses and pharmaceuticals. Which begs the second point. They matter to us because people want EPRs. It’s the companies that don’t. While they see this as a disincentive to business, they would be wrong. EPRs actually foster innovation and growth.

As Kate Breimann, state director of Environment Maryland said, “Effective EPR programs not only widen the producer’s responsibility for managing waste, but also help incentivize the redesign of products in a way that can be better recycled or reused.”

DEEPER DIVE: Oregon, Hawaii, Maryland, Washington, WasteDive



Which brings up the concept of Product Stewardship. How is product stewardship different from Extended Producer Responsibility, and why should the difference matter to us?

Extended Producer Responsibility focuses ALL the responsibility for waste management onto manufacturers. PS contrasts with EPR in that Product Stewardship places the responsibility and costs on producers of products instead of on taxpayers or consumers. It means that all parties – designers, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, consumers, recyclers, and disposers – involved in producing, selling, or using a product take responsibility for the full environmental and economic impacts of that product.

The other key difference between EPR and PS is that PS is usually designed as a voluntary system that shares responsibility for the adverse environmental effects of products by all parties involved in the lifecycle. Creating voluntary constituency amongst a variety of stakeholders—designers, marketers, manufacturers, packagers, shippers and consumers can be a lengthy process. PS principles require much wider and more diverse involvement of parties than does an EPR-only-based approach. 

Can PS work? As a complementary measure to EPR, it’s been shown to be effective, like in the case of the Oregon PaintCare Stewardship Program.

DEEPER DIVE: Product Stewardship, PSI, Oregon PaintCare Program, ILSR



The vision of a society in which consumer product producers take primary responsibility for the environmental, health, economic, and social impacts of their products is gaining steam. The idea is when producers design and manage their products with the environment in mind, the products all of us enjoy will become less toxic and more reusable and recyclable.

In the case of establishing product stewardship programs and legislation, that involves a nuance approach across multiple sectors involving a collaborative approach, bringing together the public and private sectors to develop product stewardship initiatives jointly. No mean feat.

And that’s why Scott Cassel founded the Product Stewardship Institute in 2000. PSI is a national nonprofit bringing diverse stakeholders together to reduce the health and environmental impacts of consumer products and packaging with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management.

The mission of PSI is three-fold:

  • Reduce waste, maximize reuse, and boost recycling while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and the use of toxic chemicals
  • Minimize waste management costs, particularly for taxpayers and government agencies
  • Create safe and desirable recycling and resource management jobs

As a member organization, it has hundreds of government members and more than 120 partners (businesses, NGOs, and academics), who help research, design, implement, evaluate, and promote producer responsibility laws and voluntary, producer stewardship programs that solve recycling and waste management issues toward creating a circular economy.

Why does the work of the PSI matter to us? Output. That’s why. In the mid 2000s, PSI forged agreements with paint manufacturers and other stakeholders that led to consensus model legislation and 10 paint stewardship laws, so far. PSI was also instrumental in the passage of the nation’s first laws for pharmaceuticals and mattresses, as well as helping craft Oregon’s recent EPR law.



I wonder if Scott Cassel, CEO and founder of the Product Stewardship Institute first conceived of PSI back in 2000, ever conceive of the idea CREATING an awards program? Cynically, I also wonder if Australians who care about combating climate change are bending over backwards to counter the COP26 antics of their backward-looking prime minister, Scott Morrison?

During last month’s gathering on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland, Morrison refused to include Australia in the list of countries pledging to end coal by 2040.

Perhaps in an effort to counter the narrative that Australia doesn’t care about the climate, The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence launched the first annual Product Stewardship Excellence Awards. It’s Australia’s first awards program to recognize the importance of product stewardship.

The awards aim to recognize excellence and action in product stewardship, as well as seek to raise awareness of stewardship in a range of working applications, such as businesses, government, and NGOs. The awards will feature four categories that businesses and non-government organizations can enter.

These include Best Stewardship Outcomes- Scheme or Industry Collective, Best Stewardship Outcomes- Single Business or Brand, Innovation in Industry-Led Product Stewardship Scheme Design AND Digitalization in Product Stewardship. An additional category, Product Stewardship Champion of the Year, will be directly conferred by the Centre of Excellence.

The application window closed on November 26th. Winners are scheduled to be announced December 10th.

DEEPER DIVE: PSCE, WMNews, Awards criteria,