Vermont Launches Product Stewardship Council

A growing movement to transform how products are managed at the end of their useful life – and thereby how they're designed – is spreading from the West Coast across North America and has taken root in Vermont. Local governments have joined together in the Green Mountain State to form the Vermont Product Stewardship Council (VTPSC).

The VTPSC champions Product Stewardship, also known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a policy approach that shifts waste management costs and responsibilities from being a taxpayer or ratepayer responsibility to one where the primary responsibility falls on the producers who design products. In EPR programs, producers are incentivized to redesign products to make them less toxic and wasteful, more durable and repairable, and easier to reuse, recycle, and compost.

Vermont joins the Northwest, California, and the Midwest Product Stewardship Councils as they each pave the way for strong state frameworks for product-focused environmental policies. Partnering with businesses and non-governmental organizations, these councils seek to advance sustainable production and consumption.

"We are excited about the momentum that is building among local governments across the country for product stewardship," said Bill Sheehan, executive director of the Product Policy Institute (PPI) in Athens, Ga. "Taxpayers and ratepayers should not continue to fund recycling and disposal of waste that could be prevented earlier in the production process. By making producers accountable for their products, we aim to reduce waste and create a more livable and sustainable environment for everyone."

PPI is leading the formation of independent local government product stewardship councils in the United States and was instrumental in the formation of the VTPSC. PPI provides ongoing support to these councils including networking, education, and funding.

"We appreciate the guidance the Product Policy Institute has offered us," said Jen Holliday, founder and chair of VTPSC and Environmental and Safety Compliance manager of the Chittenden Solid Waste District. "As members of municipal solid waste districts and alliances, we are all concerned about the ever-increasing volume, disposal costs and toxicity of products found in our waste stream."

Holliday also credited the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) for its years of education and outreach in Vermont that prepared the groundwork for the VTPSC. PSI has been establishing cooperative agreements to reduce the health and environmental impacts from consumer products since 2001.