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Product Stewardship: Designing For Life After The Consumer

August 3, 2011

Manufacturers of everything from smart phones to SUVs are starting to design products not just for the customer’s use, but also for an often troublesome life after the consumer, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

The cover story by C&EN Senior Editor Melody M. Bomgardner focuses on product stewardship, an increasingly popular approach to environmental protection in which manufacturers, retailers, users, and disposers share responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of products. That means, for instance, making products from biodegradable materials that decompose quickly in landfills, or fabricating products for easy disassembly so their components can be economically recycled and reused.

Bomgardner explains how Federal and state policies and regulations already are driving retail product companies to establish stewardship policies. At least 25 states have regulations requiring recycling of electronic waste, and others are considering such action. The article describes how the move toward product stewardship is fostering take-back programs to recover and reuse materials that previously could have posed environmental pollution risks.

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