What is Product Stewardship and why is it important?
The Australian Bedding Stewardship Council (ABSC)
The Australian Bedding Stewardship Council (ABSC) membership base brings together designers, raw material suppliers (supply chain), manufacturers, retailers, importers, and recyclers of bedding products, mostly, mattresses.
Product stewardship is borne out of the assumption that everyone who imports, designs, produces, sells, uses, and disposes of products has a shared responsibility to reduce the environmental and human health and safety impacts of those products at the end of their useful life.
ABSC encourages the industry to research and embrace innovation to –
• improve the design and manufacturing processes so that mattresses are easier to dismantle at end-of-life, providing more opportunities to recover valuable, non-renewable resources used
• include more recycled content in the design
• Include materials that in themselves are recyclable to support a circular approach
Recycle My Mattress (RMM), administered by the ABSC, maximises recycling of mattresses to avoid them being landfilled or dumped. RMM raises awareness of the issues that end-of-life mattresses cause in the environment and provides easy solutions to facilitate responsible recycling through retailers and recyclers participating in the RMM program. Go to www.recyclemymattress.com.au to explain how.
What is product stewardship?
According to the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence (2021), “Product stewardship acknowledges those involved in designing, manufacturing, and selling products have a responsibility to ensure those products or materials are managed in a way that reduces their environmental and human health impacts, throughout the life-cycle and across the supply chain. Product Stewardship aims to reduce waste generation through better design and manufacture of products, including the use of materials that are easier to recover, reuse and recycle.”
Why is product stewardship important?
Product stewardship is important because it drives improved outcomes; to innovate and create better products for both consumers and the environment, and to ensure a positive, sustainable future for our industry and future generations.
As governments move towards polluter-pays models, and bans on export of waste materials increases, innovation and positive environmental outcomes become essential for businesses to not only survive but to thrive.
What does “good product stewardship” look like in general?
Product stewardship is successful when:
• Consumers can have their products and packaging recycled responsibly
• Products are designed with recycling, repairing, remanufacturing, or composting in mind
• Product stewards keep valuable resources circulating in the economy for as long as possible
• Products are manufactured with more recycled, and recyclable inputs
• Hazardous materials and compounds are avoided in the product and manufacturing process.
• Keeps its industry up to date with global/emerging trends
How is product stewardship funded?
Each product stewardship program is funded in a unique way. The Australian Bedding Stewardship Council (ABSC) is predominantly member funded, meaning membership fees fund our operation. Recycle My Mattress is currently funded by ABSC members.
In late 2020, ABSC was the recipient of an Australian Government grant to help us expand the program to all states and territories, and to explore opportunities to increase recycling avenues for recovered resources. ABSC is a not-for-profit entity.
How does product stewardship work?
We are all in bed together. All jokes aside, product stewardship is about working together to build expertise, educate, innovate, share ideas and opportunities. ABSC works with industry members here in Australia and experts overseas. We also engage with universities, researchers, and other product stewardship schemes globally. The research, insights, ideas, and knowledge we build will be shared with our members to help them innovate and improve environmental impacts and outcomes for everyone.
Are there other product stewardship programs or is ABSC the only one?
There are a growing range of product stewardship programs in Australia and around the world. You may have heard of some and not realised they were a product stewardship program. ABSC collaborates with like-minded product stewardship programs including:
What is next for product stewardship at ABSC?
ABSC is currently operating a limited product stewardship scheme as we further develop the appropriate model to suit our industry sectors. With the support of the Australian Government through the Australian Product Stewardship Investment Fund, ABSC is developing version 2.0, an expanded scheme of the Recycle My Mattress program, actively growing into new states and welcoming new members. We will be improving our member experience, providing greater value and support to our members.
Our dream is for a good night’s sleep on a mattress that is entirely recyclable. With the engagement and participation of key industry and supply chain members, we look forward to making this a reality.
How can you help?
If you’re a part of the bedding industry you can apply to become a member of the Australian Bedding Stewardship Council. Not only will you be a part of solving challenges faced, you and your business will benefit from being a member with your fellow industry participants. Contributing to the development and operation of a product stewardship scheme enhances your social licence to operate and engages customers who have a growing awareness of waste, and the environmental impacts of products they purchase.
If you’re a consumer, you can vote with your feet. You can choose to purchase a mattress manufactured by an ABSC member brands, and purchase from one of our member retailers. If you have a mattress that has reached the end of its useful life, you can recycle it with one our preferred recyclers. Go to RMM
Stay up-to-date and follow the ABSC and Recycle My Mattress socials: