Product stewards: Strike the right balance with a multi-stakeholder approach

What drives business decisions that affect product stewardship? One obvious answer is ‘regulatory requirements.’ Some things you have to do because it’s the law. But there are other factors that influence product stewardship, whether you’re conscious of them or not.

At Stewardship 2016, Jonathan Nwagbaraocha, environmental affairs manager at Xerox Corp., will discuss some of those factors during the presentation Who’s Driving Here: Balancing Factors Impacting Product Stewardship Decision-Making. “I'm going to dive into and dissect what happens when some of those factors are leading while others are lagging, when that push and pull among factors is at play,” he says.

Along with regulations, Nwagbaraocha tags three other factors as influential to conversations about product stewardship: 1) corporate social responsibility goals, 2) market initiatives and 3) costs.

To illustrate the factors at play, imagine packaging for a product. If companies design packaging only to meet regulatory requirements, they may lag behind competitors with stronger corporate sustainability goals. On the other hand, companies that lead with corporate sustainability goals and market initiatives may experience higher costs.

To strike the right balance between competing factors is the challenge that companies face. Nwagbaraocha offers a solution: “Because of the conflicting factors that are involved, the ideal approach is likely to be multi-stakeholder,” he says. “The key is going to be what processes can you put in place that will take all of these factors and turn them into an achievable and effective product stewardship deliverable.”

Nwagbaraocha will also explain how to start implementing a multi-stakeholder approach to decision-making. “The first step is actually identifying who is involved in not only the decision-making but ultimately the implementation of the product stewardship goals and benchmarks,” he says. “You need to have that common understanding of, even though we say this on paper, can we actually do it?”


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