Product stewardship is a policy tool that ensures that the people and organisations who make, sell, use and dispose of a product share responsibility for
  1. ensuring that the product is effectively reduced, reused, recycled or recovered (in that order)
  2. minimising the product’s impact on the environment, human health and safety.

Responsibility is shared, but that does not mean it is divided equally. Effective product stewardship recognises that businesses that make products have the greatest ability (and thus responsibility) to minimise adverse impacts, and should therefore shoulder the costs of product stewardship. When a product’s social and environmental costs are effectively internalised in this way, producers are strongly incentivised to redesign their products to cause less waste and environmental harm in the first place.

Product stewardship is made possible in New Zealand under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. The Act’s definition of product stewardship can be found in section 8.