Product Stewardship in Action

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Product Stewardship in Action

The Business Case for Life-cycle Thinking

Product Stewardship in Action describes how and why leading companies are taking responsibility for the environmental impact of their products and packaging. Product stewardship, often referred to as "extended producer responsibility" or EPR, is the idea that everyone that benefits commercially from a product, including manufacturers, distributors and retailers, has a shared responsibility to minimize its environmental impacts.

Written primarily for a business audience, it draws on the knowledge and experience of industry practitioners and other experts to provide a structured approach to product responsibility within firms. This will help those new to the field, as well as more experienced practitioners, to develop an effective response to stakeholder concerns about the environmental impacts of their products and packaging.

Unlike other resources on product stewardship and EPR, which tend to focus on the design or evaluation of public policy, this book highlights the business case for action. It argues that companies can achieve "shared value" — both public and commercial value — when they take a proactive and knowledge-based approach to the life-cycle management of their products.

Product Stewardship in Action focuses on product stewardship as an effective business strategy rather than a philanthropic exercise. To be effective it needs to be based on a good understanding of product impacts and stakeholder concerns, and the risks and opportunities that these present to the business. The most effective responses will be those that address material issues in the product life-cycle while supporting the achievement of other corporate goals and priorities.

In her new book, Product Stewardship in Action, leading Australian consultant Helen Lewis acknowledges many corporates do see the practice as an ethical or social obligation, but it can be so much more. Lewis identifies how it can add value, both from a public and commercial perspective, be part of a stakeholder management strategy and, ultimately, be a source of competitive advantage. Looking at risks and opportunities, the book affirms the business strategy behind product stewardship and details the most effective ways businesses can implement a life-cycle approach. Lewis covers recycling and waste management constraints, the role of regulators and consumer expectations. There are a number of excellent industry case studies from around the world looking at packaging, e-waste and batteries.

Corporate Waste Solutions, Issue 5, December 2016

This book is a must-read for anyone engaged in the responsible use and management of materials, whether from industry, government, or an environmental group. It documents the historical roots of product stewardship and extended producer responsibility, and offers an impressive array of voluntary and regulatory concepts, strategies, and tangible case studies. Helen’s book is a great resource for the practitioner and academic alike, and is destined to spark ideas for innovations that will conserve natural resources and propel us ever forward toward the global circular economy. 

Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Product Stewardship Institute, USA.

This book reflects a deeply practical understanding of how product stewardship can address significant environmental and social impacts within a commercial context. Helen Lewis highlights a wealth of information that demonstrates product stewardship as an essential business and environmental strategy for progressive companies.

John Gertsakis, Chief Sustainability Officer at Infoactiv Group, Victoria, Australia

Part 1: A framework for action. 
1. Introduction: evolution, key concepts and business drivers. 
2. A strategic approach to product stewardship. 
Part 2: Product stewardship by sector. 
3. Packaging. 
4. Electrical and electronic equipment. 
5. Batteries. 
Part 3: Conclusions. 
6. Strategies for success. 
7. What’s next? The future of product stewardship. 

HELEN LEWIS has been involved in product stewardship for many years in industry, academic and government roles. Her previous roles have included CEO of the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative and Director of the Centre for Design at RMIT University.

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