Product stewardship and waste management

    Old car tires into the reeds are between grasses in the water  Click to enlarge
Product stewardship enables manufacturers and distributors to avoid sights such as this one.
Source: Brigitte Hilbrecht

Under waste management law, manufacturers are required to assume responsibility for any product that engenders waste, particularly when it comes to taking products back and recycling them. Such stewardship is meant to encourage manufacturers to prevent waste already during the product design and manufacturing phases, and to ensure that end-of-life products can be recycled.

Legal framework

Extended producer responsibility in the sphere of waste management is governed by the Waste Management Act (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz - KrWG), particularly its provisions concerning the development of long-lasting products, the use of secondary raw materials for manufacturing, and recycling end-of-life products in an ecofriendly fashion. These objectives are promoted by the stipulations concerning the following: substance bans; labelling requirements; requiring manufacturers and retailers to take back end-of-life products.

Requirements concerning specific types of products (e.g. return deposits for glass bottles and jars) can be set via laws, ordinances or regulations.
The following laws define the scope of product stewardship for packaging, motor vehicles, portable batteries, electric and electronic devices, and petroleum products:

•    Packaging Act (Verpackungsgesetz - VerpackG)
•    Used Vehicle Ordinance (Altfahrzeugverordnung)
•    Battery Act (Batteriegesetz - BattG)
•    Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (Elektro- und Elektronikgerätegesetz - ElektroG)
•    Waste Oils Regulation (Altölverordnung)

For example the Batteriegesetz governs the return and disposal of waste batteries, whereby the responsibility of consumers in this regard is limited to bringing such batteries to a facility where they are collected separately. Retailers are required by law to take back waste batteries free of charge and to provide suitable receptacles for them. Battery manufacturers are responsible for environmentally sound recycling of such batteries.