|Nebraska takes on product stewardship|
Government grant sparks collaborative effort to reduce waste, save money, and protect the environment.
When George Witt began to offer a higher grade of motor oil to his customers to increase the interval between oil changes, he was not aware that he was part of a product stewardship movement taking hold across the country.
Recently, George Witt Service in Lincoln and Methodist Health System in Omaha, were recognized for their efforts to reduce environmental impacts of their operations with the first product stewardship awards given in Nebraska.
The awards were made at an event hosted by WasteCap Nebraska, during which the launch of a new website promoting product stewardship in Nebraska was also announced.
“I’m honored to be recognized for my efforts and even more pleased that what I’m doing has a positive impact on the environment,” commented award winner Witt.
Product stewardship is a policy that ensures that all those involved in the lifecycle of a product share responsibility for reducing its health and environmental impacts, with producers bearing primary financial responsibility.
“WasteCap Nebraska is proud to partner with the Department of Environmental Quality, Keep Nebraska Beautiful, other organizations, and cities and towns in the state to promote the Nebraska Product Stewardship Initiative,” said Carrie Hakenkamp, WasteCap’s Executive Director. “By engaging both the public and private sector through product stewardship approaches, we can create more ways to reduce unintended impacts on our health and environment without draining state resources.”
The new Nebraska product stewardship website (http://www.productstewardshipnebraska.org/) includes information about how to recycle electronics and mercury-containing products, such as fluorescent lamps and thermostats, among other products.
“When these products are disposed of as trash, the toxic substances in them can be released to the environment,” explained Scott Cassel, the Executive Director of the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI). “In product stewardship, we look to the companies who make and sell products to change product design and help ensure that products are properly managed at the end of their useful life.”
The Nebraska website, which PSI helped develop, also includes resources for civic leaders, organizations, and agencies interested in learning more about how product stewardship can work for their communities.
This collaborative effort is funded by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and facilitated by WasteCap Nebraska and PSI. Project partners include the Cities of Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk and Hastings; Keep Nebraska Beautiful; Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department; the League of Nebraska Municipalities Utilities Section; and others.
PSI is a national, nonprofit organization which works with state and local governments, companies, and organizations to develop collaborative solutions to reduce product impacts.