Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Grants to promote product stewardship, sustainable communities

By SARA QAMAR

Capital News Service

LANSING – Product stewardship, a concept which puts environmental responsibility on consumers and producers, is one of the focuses of this year’s round of pollution prevention proposals to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which will award $50,000 to the winning community to implement its initiative.

Competitors were asked to come up with ideas for partnerships among consumers, retailers and manufacturers to create greener methods of recycling and disposal of products such as bottles, paint and plastics.

Rich Alexander, the DEQ supervisor for pollution prevention grant programs said, “Product stewardship is a timely topic right now. It’s expanding. Consumers want to know the products they’re buying are safe and environmentally friendly.”

Another set of grants focuses on sustainable communities, which will give several smaller awards.

Winners must match 25 percent of their grants.

After the grants are made, organizers have two years to implement their programs. When the results are ready, the programs could be a model for statewide application.

Last year’s recipients received awards up to $50,000 for climate-action themed projects: Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Hazel Park, Southgate and Ypsilanti.

Dearborn is working to develop a transit-oriented program in which residents would be encouraged to take the train to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the need for parking spaces, said David Norwood, city sustainability coordinator.

The city is sharing its successes and failures with others like Grand Rapids, he said.

“We probably wouldn’t do any of this without the grant,” he said.

Choosing this year’s product stewardship winner doesn’t necessarily depend on the most innovative idea, but technique and familiarity with the topic, Alexander said.

“We think there are only a few people out there who know a lot about product stewardship. It may come down to experience, who has the best or most,” he said.

© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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