January 31, 2019 / Michael Sullivan

The Push and Pull of Product Stewardship Revealed

The closing session of Product Stewardship 2018 focused on the two forces that often drive the industry: government regulation and customer demand. Product Stewardship Society President-Elect Lynn Bergeson, Managing Partner of Bergeson & Campbell, moderated a discussion between Dr. Nancy Beck, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Christopher Cassell, Director of Corporate Sustainability for Lowe’s.

Dr. Beck delivered an overview of the 2016 updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the first major update to the law in several years. She detailed newly-released guidance, how her office prioritizes chemical evaluation, and the process the EPA uses to examine a chemical. The EPA has set an aggressive timetable to work through all of the substances covered by TSCA and Dr. Beck covered the EPA’s goals for 2019.

Mr. Cassell shared how Lowe’s has emphasized doing business in a sustainable way by partnering with government agencies like the EPA, suppliers, and trade associations. Since unveiling their corporate responsibility strategy in 2016, sustainability has been a primary concern for the Lowe’s. The company has removed products from their shelves that they determined were not sustainable. These decisions were sometimes in response to consumer feedback, but also done proactively. On the whole, Lowe’s is having more conversations about sustainability at every level of their business. Mr. Cassell was thrilled to be at Product Stewardship 2018 because of the opportunities the conference presented to connect with allies in sustainability.

Ms. Bergeson led a discussion on the challenges that each organization has faced in recent years. Dr. Beck and Mr. Cassell talked about how their organizations promote informed decisions in sustainability. Audience members also had the opportunity to get perspectives from these members of the public and private sectors about regulations and what distributors want to see from their suppliers.

Before closing, Ms. Beregson observed that many of the topics discussed in the closing session would be taken up again at Product Stewardship 2019.​

Michael Sullivan


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