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Policy Positions

From time to time, the NERC Board of Directors adopts a policy position to guide the organization and to inform the recycling community. Over its lengthy history, this has happened relatively few times. As such, the policies that have been adopted represent not only the position of the organization, but highlight a topic of particular sensitivity and concern.

Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility Policy Statement


The purpose of this policy statement is to articulate guiding principles for NERC as it works with policy makers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers, regulators, legislators, waste managers and other stakeholders to develop or implement programs that safely and effectively manage the entire spectrum of consumer products throughout their lifecycle. 


Product Stewardship

The act of minimizing health, safety, environmental, and social impacts, and maximizing economic benefits of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages. The producer of the product has the greatest ability to minimize adverse impacts, but other stakeholders, such as suppliers, retailers, government, and consumers, may also play a role.  Product stewardship can be implemented through either voluntary programs or legal requirements.

Extended Producer Responsibility

Is a mandatory type of product stewardship that includes, at a minimum, the requirement that the producer’s responsibility for its product extends to post consumer management of that product. There are two related features of producer responsibility: (1) shifting financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, upstream to the producer and away from the public sector; and (2) providing incentives to producers to incorporate environmental considerations in the design of their products.

Policy Statement

NERC believes that it is in the best interest of the public and the environment to reduce the adverse health, financial, environmental, and other impacts associated with the lifecycle of consumer products and that the responsibility for reducing these impacts must be shared among manufacturers, retailers, government, and consumers. NERC believes that the greater the ability/efficiency an entity or interest group has to minimize a product's lifecycle impacts, the greater is its degree of responsibility and opportunity for addressing those impacts. NERC believes that extended producer responsibility programs in the Northeast have a demonstrated record of increasing recycling, saving municipalities money, and creating recycling related jobs.

It is through regional and multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation and the leadership of state and local governments that product stewardship and extended producer responsibility strategies are most effectively developed and implemented.   

NERC recognizes that the goals of product stewardship and extended producer responsibility are to: 

  • Use the efficiencies of the free market to increase recycling and composting,
  • Increase the use of recycled materials in product manufacturing,
  • Encourage source and waste reduction throughout the product lifecycle,
  • Encourage durability, reusability, and recyclability of products,
  • Encourage manufacturers to produce products that contain fewer toxic and virgin components,
  • Educate stakeholders about the environmental and health impacts of the lifecycle of products, and
  • Shift the costs of end-of-life product management from municipal tax payers and generators to consumers and product manufacturers.

NERC Action Guidelines

To implement this policy NERC will pursue actions, including but not limited to: 

  • Initiating, participating in and/or facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and national and regional activities to establish agreements that promote shared lifecycle management of products and encourage source reduction, reuse, recycling, and decreased use of toxic and virgin components.
  • Working with governmental entities to develop and establish policies and programs that encourage product stewardship and extended producer responsibility.
  • Cooperating in outreach and educational activities that encourage and support product stewardship and extended producer responsibility strategies.   
  • Analyzing and sharing data about product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs.
  • Initiating, participating in and/or facilitating efforts that support the efficient and effective implementation of product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs.
  • Assessing and considering available research and data relative to product stewardship and extended producer responsibility initiatives and the associated environmental impacts before making strategic decisions.


NERC worked with the Northeast newspaper publishers to negotiate a commitment to use more recycled newsprint, and with the Direct Marketing Association and Yellow Pages Publishers to use recycled content paper and improve recyclability of the Yellow pages. In addition, NERC was a signatory to the national carpet stewardship agreement and participant in the dialogues that led to the agreement. NERC also served as an active stakeholder in the National Electronics Product Stewardship (NEPSI) Dialogue, and adopted the first used electronics market development policy in the United States. It continues to support product stewardship through its Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse and Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse programs.

Adopted April 5, 2018