Product Stewardship: Working to Minimize the Environmental Impacts of Products

In 2011, SC Johnson commissioned a large-scale survey to illuminate American attitudes and behaviors with respect to the environment. While not specifically focused on product stewardship, The Environment: Public Attitudes and Individual Behavior provides insights that can help us better advance our cause with consumers, including:

1. Americans are less likely to be confused over what is good and bad for the environment (about seven in 10 say they know a lot or a fair amount about environmental issues).

2. Americans want companies to “go green” and there is evidence that they give credit to companies that do so.

3. About three in four (74%) agree “a manufacturer that reduces the environmental impact of its production process and products is making a smart business decision.”

4. An eco-friendly call to personal action is likely to be especially effective if consumers see that other key players—namely, government and business—are also doing their part to protect the environment.

A 2012 survey on “Green Guilt” revealed that “Americans increasingly feel an obligation to recycle, and that they share responsibility with manufacturers and others to reduce the environmental impact of many products.” This is product stewardship at its best.

For product stewardship programs, these results are great news. But they are especially important when evaluated through the lens of this statement from the EPA, “Without consumer engagement in product stewardship, there is no ‘closing the loop.’”

There is a lot of support for what we, as environmental sentinels, do. And although people don’t know about it now, there appears to be a great willingness to learn and to participate with us. Our challenge now is to connect better and harness the power of that support. Helping consumers better understand product stewardship is important because together, we can help drive great change, much like the spark that came out of the first Earth Day.

First published in Environmental Leader

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