California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)


Why producers have a role... | Roles and responsibilities | Action Steps | Resources

Why do producers have a role in product stewardship?

A fundamental principle of product stewardship is that there is a shared responsibility among stakeholders in the product chain. However, those with the greatest ability to minimize a product's lifecycle impacts have a greater degree of responsibility, and opportunity, to address those impacts. [1]

Producers, as the entity within a product chain having considerable influence over the design, production, and marketing decisions, have primary responsibility to minimize the cradle-to-cradle impacts of a product and its packaging. This allows the costs of treatment and disposal to be incorporated into the total cost of a product. It also creates a setting for markets to emerge that truly reflect the environmental impacts of a product. This would allow producers and consumers the opportunity to respond to a product's true costs.

Roles and responsibilities under the CalRecycle EPR Framework

Roles and responsibilities are laid out in the EPR Framework guidance document.

Generally speaking, the role of producers includes assuming financial and/or physical responsibility for a designated product. Producers design, develop, and implement a product stewardship plan to achieve goals specified by the State. The EPR Framework gives producers flexibility in designing and implementing stewardship programs for their products. This can be done collectively with other producers through the establishment of a stewardship organization, such as with the Battery Council International. Stewardship programs can also be designed and implemented individually. An example of an individual producer responsibility program is Sony's Take-Back and Recycling Program.

One key responsibility of producers in an EPR program would be to prepare and submit a product stewardship plan for approval by the state. Although the exact components of a product stewardship plan would be determined through legislation or regulation, product stewardship plans typically describe how the producer or stewardship organization plans to fulfill its obligations related to the design, collection, financing, and tracking of the product stewardship program in order to meet the state-set goals.

This describes the kind of information one might expect to be required for a product stewardship program.

Action Steps

As a producer, you may already be implementing EPR programs as a part of requirements of doing business in other parts of the country and/or world. Or, you may be interested in finding out more details about what participating in an EPR system might entail. The following action steps will help you to engage in EPR-related discussions in California:

  • Review and familiarize yourself with EPR information on CalRecycle's website:
  • Refer to this website for examples of policy and law in the United States and worldwide.
  • Join the EPR listserv to keep up-to-date on EPR developments at CalRecycle.
  • Learn how stewardship organizations are helping other producers meet their obligations.
  • Check into product stewardship and EPR-related organizations that seek to work with producers and other stakeholders in exploring opportunities to maximize the benefits of EPR programs.


^1Product Stewardship Institute

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Last updated: February 3, 2014
Extended Producer Responsibility and Stewardship
Contact: (916) 341-6449