An Introduction to Product Stewardship

Discover the importance of product stewardship and how to implement a product stewardship program in your organization effectively.

worker practicing product stewardship by examining the products in a warehouse

What is Product Stewardship?

Product stewardship refers to the responsible and sustainable handling of products throughout their entire lifecycle. This approach to Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) causes companies to keep a closer eye on their products and the materials used to manufacture them. This includes ethical sourcing, responsible handling, and sustainable disposal, which all help companies reduce waste and carbon footprint while improving overall operations.


Embracing product stewardship is the first step to introducing safe, ethical, and sustainable practices in your organization. This reduces waste, which is great for the environment and for any business, as it reduces costs while improving productivity.

Companies recognize the need to integrate responsible practices into their product lifecycle, which means they’re paying closer attention to how products are sourced, designed, and handled. Through this, consumers and manufacturers get the most out of their products throughout the entire lifecycle. Practicing product stewardship also allows businesses to gain a competitive edge by building customer trust and fostering customer loyalty.

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Elements of Product Stewardship

Product stewardship may look different for every company. This is because practices should be tailored to the materials and products the company handles. However, there are a few key elements of product stewardship that you must remember when implementing the practice.

Sustainable Design

Sustainable design is the cornerstone of product stewardship. By incorporating eco-friendly materials and reducing waste in the manufacturing process, companies can minimize their environmental footprint. Additionally, consumers are more likely to support products that align with their values, making sustainable design a strategic advantage.

Supply Chain Transparency

Maintaining a transparent supply chain not only makes product stewardship easier but it also helps in establishing more trust between the company and consumers.  Part of this includes how companies must collaborate with suppliers who share their commitment to ethical and sustainable practices while observing clear communication and traceability throughout the supply chain. This helps build credibility and trust among consumers.

End-of-Life Management

Products must be disposed of properly when they reach the end-stage of their life. This reduces the waste entering landfills and polluting our environment, while also offering an opportunity for companies to recycle. By implementing recycling programs and encouraging responsible product disposal, companies can find it easier to not only minimize environmental impact, but also demonstrate a commitment to the entire product lifecycle.

Best Product Stewardship Practices

Aside from including the key elements in your stewardship program, it’s also critical to follow the best practices in product stewardship. This makes the entire process flow smoother, increasing your chances of a successful and sustainable product stewardship program.

Some of the best practices for product stewardship include the following:

Conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Perform a thorough life cycle assessment regularly to understand the environmental impact of the product from raw material extraction to disposal.

Complying with Regulations

Stay informed and comply with relevant environmental, health, and safety regulations in the regions where the product is manufactured, used, and disposed of.

Managing Supply Chain Engagement

Collaborate with suppliers to ensure they adhere to sustainable and responsible practices, including ethical sourcing of raw materials.

Promoting Transparency and Communication

Communicate transparently with stakeholders, including customers, about the product’s impact and the steps taken to mitigate environmental and health risks.

Designing Products for Sustainability

Integrate sustainability into product design, considering factors like energy efficiency, recyclability, and the use of environmentally friendly materials.

FAQs about Product Stewardship

The Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) has a comprehensive product stewardship program which focuses on collecting and recycling electronic products. Through this program, companies can learn how to better reduce their electronic waste, which is a growing problem for the global community.

Yes, practicing product stewardship contributes to a circular economy by promoting responsible product design, reuse, and recycling, thereby minimizing waste generation and extending product lifespans.

Businesses can ensure their product stewardship goals align with sustainability goals by integrating eco-friendly practices into product design, engaging in responsible supply chain management, and regularly assessing and improving environmental and social impacts.

Technology is crucial in implementing an effective product stewardship program as it can help improve sustainability processes, quantify the results of the product stewardship initiatives, and more. It is for this reason companies are highly encouraged to adopt digital platforms and tools that can streamline their product stewardship practices and processes.

Leon Altomonte
Article by
Leon Altomonte
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.