DEEP: Product Stewardship

What is Product Stewardship?

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Typically municipalities have borne the responsibility to pay for solid waste disposal and recycling. Under product stewardship, that cost is shifted to the manufacturer. Municipalities can save tax dollars while increasing recycling programs.

Definition of Product Stewardship
Product Stewardship is the act of minimizing health, safety, environmental and social impacts, and maximizing economic benefits of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages. 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. Stewardship can be either voluntary or required by law.

There are different strategies for product stewardship to be realized including voluntary and/or mandatory programs.  Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a mandatory type of product stewardship that includes, at a minimum, the requirement that the producerís responsibility for their product extends to post-consumer management of that product and its packaging. There are two related features of EPR policy: (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.
Source: Product Stewardship Institute  (PSI)

Organizations that endorse the principles of product stewardship:


National Product Stewardship Programs in Connecticut  
The Call2Recycle program (formerly the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation) has operated a product stewardship program in CT since 1995. Under this program, residents can bring rechargeable batteries to a number of participating retail outlets for recycling. Call2Recycle program, which consists of manufacturers of batteries and related products, pays for the recycling of the batteries and also recycles cell phones.

Product Stewardship and Connecticutís Solid Waste Management Plan
Product stewardship plays an important role in the Stateís Solid Waste Management Plan. According to the Plan, "Solid waste management efforts in Connecticut will be guided by the principle of shared responsibility or "product stewardship". The plan goes on to say that since manufacturers play a central role in the life cycle of a product, they should have a greater financial responsibility for the end of life management.
On October 25, 2012, a stakeholder's meeting was held in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the CT Product Stewardship Council.  The Briefing Document, "Setting Product Stewardship Priorities for Connecticut" provides background information provided to stakeholders before the meeting and incorporates decisions made during the meeting.
The stakeholders represented at the meeting identified the following priorities for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the State of Connecticut. See Appendix A of the Briefing Document for a list of meeting participants.
The October 2012 meeting identified five top products, in this order: 
1. Mattresses
2. Carpet
3. Batteries
4. Fertilizers and Pesticides
5. Packaging
Additional products that were identified and received (number of) votes include the following:

6. Tires (72)
7. Lamps (71)
8. Gas cylinders (62)
9. Smoke detectors (60)
10. Sharps (54)
11. Plastic films (47)
12. Pharmaceuticals (47)
13. Furniture (33)
14. Plastic bags (20)
15. Textiles (24)
16. Phone books (17)
17. C & D debris (11)
In December of 2013, DEEP awarded a multi-year contract to the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) to help Connecticut implement extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs for priority product categories, including carpet, batteries, packaging and printed material and pesticides and fertilizers.  In June 2014, DEEP requested PSI focus efforts on tires in place of pesticides and fertilizers.

The Connecticut Product Stewardship Council
In June 2009, state and local government representatives and other interested stakeholders, convened in Harford to discuss the possibility of forming a Product Stewardship Council in Connecticut. As a result of that meeting, stakeholders decided to form a Council in Connecticut. The Council will help to raise the profile of product stewardship in Connecticut. By being organized, Connecticut is in a position to take advantage of opportunities for pilot programs negotiated by PSI and manufacturers. Find more information about the Connecticut Product Stewardship Council.

Connecticut Specific Product Stewardship Initiatives  

In June 2014, DEEP hosted a national and regional dialogue with PSI and battery stewardship stakeholders to discuss battery stewardship.  At the two-day event the battery industry leaders shared a model bill.  The first-ever all-battery bill!  Almost 130 people, representing 23 states and Canada joined the meeting in person and/or by phone.  It was a pivotal moment, witnessing the battery industry coming together to support battery recycling.  DEEP will continue to work with PSI and stakeholders representing the battery industry, recyclers, retailers and others about stewardship legislation for 2015.  For more information, please contact Tom Metzner at CT DEEP.  Learn more about Managing Household Batteries and Recycling Rechargeable Batteries in Connecticut.

In May 2014, DEEP hosted a national and regional dialogue with PSI and carpet stewardship stakeholders.  The two-day dialogue for carpet stewardship engaged over 100 people representing 15 states in person and/or by phone.  Discussions explored the challenges and opportunities of recycling, approaching management with voluntary or mandated product stewardship and rural collection issues.  DEEP will continue to work with PSI and stakeholders representing the carpet industry, recyclers, retailers, installers and others about stewardship legislation for 2015.  For more information, please contact Tom Metzner at CT DEEP.  Learn what to do with your old carpet in Connecticut.


In 2007, Connecticut became one of the first states in the country to pass a law requiring manufacturers of computers, monitors and televisions to finance the transportation and recycling of their products. The law took effect in February of 2011 and now Connecticut municipalities can recycle electronics appropriately and at no cost to the taxpayer. Learn more about E-Waste  management in Connecticut.
In 2013, Connecticut became the first state to pass comprehensive mattress recycling legislation.  Public Act 13-42 requires mattress manufacturers to establish a program to manage unwanted mattresses generated in Connecticut. The law will assess a fee at the point of sale to finance the program.  When a consumer purchases a new mattress, there will be an additional fee charged.  The retailer will transfer this money to the mattress manufacturers who will use it to pay for transportation and recycling of unwanted mattresses. 
The government does not administer this program or control the funds collected. The mattress manufacturers were required to submit a plan to the DEEP by July 1, 2014. The Connecticut Mattress Stewardship Plan, submitted by the Mattress Recycling Council, was approved by DEEP on December 31, 2014.
In order to provide the mattress industry with the information necessary to draft the best plan possible, DEEP convened a stakeholder working group in which municipalities, recyclers, mattress manufacturers, environmental groups, entrepreneurs and other interested parties participated.
Supporting Extended Producer Responsibility for Mattresses (U.S. Conference of Mayors Resolution, June 2012)

While mercury thermostats have not been legal to sell in Connecticut since 2004, many still remain in service.  The thermostat manufacturers established a program to recover mercury thermostats removed from service in 1998. The organization they formed, the Thermostat Recycling Corporation, primarily serves heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors by providing collection points at electrical wholesalers that sell thermostats. A law passed in 2012 made this program mandatory. The program has expanded to include household hazardous waste facilities and municipal transfer stations. The law also establishes a prohibition on disposal for all household thermostats beginning in 2014. Learn more about Connecticutís Mercury Thermostat Law.
Packaging and Printed Paper

DEEP is in the early process of researching different aspects and models of stewardship and EPR for packaging and printed paper that might work in Connecticut; integrating into our current infrastructure of mandatory recycling and deposit regulation as well as DEEPís priority for unit-based pricing for municipalities.  In 2014 and 2015, the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) led a number of discussions with DEEP staff to examine options and models.  The result of these discussions is PSIís final presentation/report Packaging and Printed Paper, Strategies to Increase Recovery in Connecticut, 2015 .
Beginning in 2003, Connecticut participated in a nationwide dialogue with paint manufacturers, recyclers, state and local governments, and other stakeholders to address the problem of how to dispose of unwanted paint. The Product Stewardship Institute facilitated the discussion. As a result of that dialogue, Connecticut signed a memorandum of understanding with the paint industry which led to the introduction of legislation in 2010. The legislation became law in 2011. Under the law, paint manufacturers will assume the costs of managing unwanted latex and oil-based paints. In the summer of 2011, the Department established a stakeholder group to work with the industry to develop the program plan. The stakeholder group met between 2011 and 2013. As result of this process, PaintCare, the non-profit organization established to implement this program, submitted a plan to the Department on March 1, 2013. The department approved the plan on May 1, 2013.  Learn more about Connecticut's Public Act 11-24, An Act Concerning Establishing a Paint Stewardship Program, Paint Recycling, and what to do with leftover paint.

DEEP is in the early planning stages for a tire stewardship program.  Visit PSIís webpage for basic information about tire management, Tires: What are the Issues?  Learn more about Recycling and Disposal of Scrap Tires in Connecticut.

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)
The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is the most prominent organization involved with product stewardship at the national level. They have engaged stakeholders in a number of different initiatives including such as paint, electronics, carpet, tires, phonebooks, and pharmaceuticals. According to their website, PSIís main focus is in three areas:
  • Policy Development Assistance Ė promotes model product stewardship policies, programs, and legislation; researches technical issues; and helps agencies, organizations, and companies develop viable solutions.
  • Coordination, Facilitation, and Mediation Ė brings key stakeholders together to reach negotiated agreements on specific products.
  • Outreach and Education - serves as a clearinghouse for information and as a network for product stewardship education, training, and development in the United States.

Connecticut is an active member of PSI.

Content last updated January 22, 2016