California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)


What is the consumer's role... | Action Steps | Resources

What is the consumer's role in product stewardship?

As consumers, our role in product stewardship is essential. One of the most important things a consumer can do is consider the environmental impacts of available products:

  • Choose those with the fewest impacts.
  • Reuse when feasible.
  • Recycle any discards.

Sustainability doesn't happen without us!

Many resources, including energy, water, and materials, go into the products and packaging we use. When discards go into a landfill, these resources are lost and harmful greenhouse gases are released into the air. Waste prevention, reuse, and recycling are ways to save resources and reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming. We can all make a difference. Ultimately, manufacturers make products that consumers purchase. When consumers demand better-designed products, manufacturers will create them.

Action Steps

  • Vote with your dollars and purchase to prevent waste:
    • When options are available, choose the product with the fewest environmental and health impacts. Purchase products that are long-lasting, less toxic, easy to reuse or recycle locally, and don't create waste.
    • When options are not available or convenient, communicate with your retailer and manufacturer and inform them of your desires as a consumer.
    • Confused about environmental claims? Consumer Reports' Eco-labels center offers information on understanding environmental claims.
  • Reuse products and packaging, when feasible:
    • Reuse products to help protect the environment and save money. There are all kinds of creative new ways to reuse old products.
    • Repaired, refurbished, or previously owned items are a form of reuse.
  • Recycle:
    • Follow directions provided by local government, manufacturers, retailers, or waste management service providers. What and how to recycle varies by community.
    • Find your nearest recycling center for materials that aren't picked up curbside. Go to and enter your ZIP code to find local recycling centers.
    • Some materials must be handled with caution for health and safety reasons, so follow instructions carefully. Place products and packaging discards in their proper place or bin. If you aren't sure, ask.
    • Products and packaging can be taken to a central collection site if not picked up where you live or work. Go to to find collection sites.
    • Do not use illegal methods to dispose of products.
  • Become involved

    Are you disappointed that products are not better labeled with consumer information to help you protect your family? Are you frustrated that product discards are difficult to manage? Support product stewardship, also known in California as Extended Producer Responsibility. Voice your opinion. Write or talk to elected officials and companies making and selling products. Let them know what you are looking for as a consumer and concerned citizen. EPR goes beyond recycling to achieve better products and packaging.

Who Are You Home

Last updated: April 22, 2009
Extended Producer Responsibility and Stewardship
Contact: (916) 341-6449