Defining Product Stewardship and Supply Chain Stewardship

Smart Innovators Product Stewardship Solutions

Within the realm of environmental health, safety, and sustainability (EHS&S) lie two specific practice areas which Verdantix covers in its research – product stewardship and supply chain stewardship. Both deal with environmental health and safety, but neither deal with EH&S in the traditional sense of day-to-day workplace operations and the activities within. Instead, these two disciplines focus on EH&S impacts often found outside of a producer’s fence line. Because these separate yet related disciplines are both harbors of rapid growth and exciting innovation for solution providers, Verdantix often gets inquiries as to how we differentiate between the two practice areas.

Product stewardship solutions focus on the design, use and disposal of products and their associated materials. Verdantix defines it as:

Software and services that enable firms to identify, report, manage and minimize the negative environmental, health and safety impacts associated with the manufacture, composition, distribution, use and disposal of a physical product for the purpose of meeting compliance requirements and supporting voluntary action.

Supply chain stewardship solutions focus on supplier firm-wide performance across energy, environment, health and safety and sustainability performance. Verdantix defines it as:

Software and managed services that enable firms to collect, aggregate, monitor and report EH&S and sustainability metrics from their suppliers to fulfil compliance requirements, augment EH&S and sustainability performance and voluntary disclosures, and allow the application of sustainability, responsibility, and ethical sourcing criteria to supplier selection.

As evidenced by the above figure, both product stewardship and supply chain stewardship involve a compliance segment and a voluntary segment. Compliance-related product stewardship deals mainly with complying with product composition rules such as Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), or chemical and substance legislation like the Globally Harmonized Standard (GHS). Voluntary product stewardship involves LCAs, eco-design, or material substitution, all of which are meant to reduce the health and safety effects that your products have on the world, but none of which are generally required by law. Supply chain stewardship follows the same rationale – supply chain compliance invokes following enforceable rules such as the UK Modern Slavery Act, while supply chain responsibility deals with following voluntarily imposed governance standards or meeting self-imposed KPIs.

To learn more register for our upcoming webinar - Product Stewardship: The Current State and Near Term Outlook and read our report - Product Stewardship Market Size and Forecast 2015-2021.