Companies need to take charge of Product Stewardship

The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence aims for the wide-scale adoption of product and material stewardship principles by businesses to reduce waste generation and create positive environmental and social outcomes.

The Centre of Excellence was launched by The Hon Sussan Ley MP, the Minister for the Environment, and the Hon Trevor Evans MP, the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management in Parliament House, Canberra.

Product Stewardship is about companies, brands and retailers taking greater responsibility for their products and services across their whole life cycle. Product Stewardship leads to design of better products, using and reusing products and materials efficiently and putting in place effective end-of-life recovery systems.

“By strengthening product stewardship legislation in the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, providing $20 million through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund…businesses are stepping up,” Read said.

The Centre’s role will be to support and mentor businesses to become better product stewards by providing practical guidance, decision-making tools, training and development opportunities such as masterclasses for executives, webinars and one on one mentoring.

“The Centre will also work closely with existing product stewardship schemes and initiatives, to help them address free rider issues, logistics challenges, generate greater consumer engagement and foster best practice,” Read said.

“We will be establishing a product stewardship network for businesses, government, product stewardship organisations, not-for-profit entities and research institutions to share knowledge, learnings and experiences to foster best practice, help resolve common issues and inform the Centre’s research projects.”

The Centre will also be working closely with and providing objective and independent advice to the Australian Government and all jurisdictions on the effectiveness of product stewardship across Australia and priority areas for action.

“Product stewardship in Australia has so far reduced the environmental and human health impacts of machine lubricant oils, televisions and computers, mobile phones and accessories, agriculture and veterinary chemical containers, paint, tyres, microbeads and beverage containers.

“However, there is still a lot to be done in many other product classes such as clothing, plastic products and packaging in agriculture and construction, furniture, carpets, mattresses, lighting, photovoltaic systems, consumer packaging, white goods, toys, batteries, power tools and outdoor equipment.

“To foster excellence further, I am pleased to announce the Centre will be launching its Australian Product Stewardship Excellence Awards later this year.  The Awards will celebrate and acknowledge the people, products, materials, companies, schemes and organisations that demonstrate best practice in product and materials stewardship.

Product stewardship is about manufacturers, importers and retailers taking responsibility in designing-out waste, making products more durable, repairable and recyclable and providing customers with easily accessible and affordable options for disposing their product at the end of its life.

“It is our intent that our activities and outreach will be of relevance and value to industry-wide schemes, individual companies, organisations and governments at all levels seeking to implement a strong stewardship approach,” Read said.