About product stewardship in New Zealand

We all need to help reduce the impacts of manufactured products on our environment. When a producer, brand owner, importer, retailer or consumer accepts responsibility for reducing a product’s environmental impact, we call this product stewardship.

Product stewardship helps us transition from a linear to a circular economy

linear circular economy
Left hand side shows what a linear economy is. It shows the life cycle of a product from natural resources-Take-Make-Dispose-waste. Products can have technical and biological materials mixed up. Products use energy from finite sources.

The right side shows what a circular economy is. It includes: Biological materials: image of a Make-Consume-Enrich cycle and Technical material: image of a Make-use-return cycle

Taking responsibility

Taking responsibility may range from designing a product which can be broken down into recyclable or reusable components to responsible disposal or recycling of a product.

You might not realise it, but most – if not all – New Zealanders routinely interact with product stewardship schemes.

For example when:

  • you put your glass bottles out for kerbside recycling or use recycling bins in public places
  • your children drink milk at school through the Fonterra Milk in Schools programme
  • you purchase New Zealand-grown produce (one quarter of all farmers are involved in one or more product stewardship schemes).

Schemes cover everything from paint to carpet tiles, mobile phones to toner cartridges.

Guidance on developing a product stewardship scheme

This roadmap is about developing a product stewardship scheme. It has a focus on developing circular economy products. The Ministry, accredited product stewardship scheme managers and the Sustainable Business Network contributed to the roadmap.

Government accreditation

Over 350 New Zealand companies and other organisations participate in one or more product stewardship schemes that are Government accredited. Collectively, these schemes have diverted more than 1.3 million tonnes of waste from landfill.

Find out more

For further information on the Ministry’s product stewardship work programme, please email PSAccreditation@mfe.govt.nz.

For information on the circular economy see the Circular economy accelerator website and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website.