Promoting Product Stewardship in Rural Areas

The Problem

Rural areas present their own unique challenges with regards to outreach and recycling logistics. While rural counties have small populations, on a per capita basis they generate a significant amount of household hazardous waste (HHW), very little of which is diverted from the waste stream. Rural populations are also more dependent on groundwater. HHW contains the same toxic materials as commercial and industrial hazardous waste and should be managed with a comparable level of care.


A Solution

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office (USDA RDA) has awarded six Solid Waste Management Grants to PSI since 2010. Through these grants, PSI works to increase local enrollment in manufacturer-funded take-back programs and to promote the availability and use of these programs among residents in small, impoverished communities. These projects allow PSI to conduct extensive research, generate detailed data surveys and reports, develop best practices guides, fact sheets, and documents for product and program management, promote collection through webinars, social media, press releases, and other outreach materials, and help local governments facilitate dialogues focusing on product management in their communities.

USDA Rural Program Regions

Illinois and Iowa, 2010

Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tenessee, 2012

Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, 2013
  • Promoted and increased collection of rechargeable batteries, electronics, mercury-containing products, and tires
  • 64% increase in product collection sites in targeted rural areas
  • Generated fact sheets, brochures, and other outreach and marketing materials, including two webinars
Oregon and Washington, 2014
  • Increased awareness and promoted collection of unused and unwanted pharmaceuticals in 2 counties in Washington and Oregon through surveys, pamphlets, mailings, and radio, television, and billboard ads
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, 2015
New York State, 2016
  • Piloted and evaluated pharmaceutical take-back operations (including both pharmacy-based collection and mail-back systems) in two rural counties. 
  • Educated residents in these communities and the surrounding areas about the environmental and health risks of improper waste pharmaceutical disposal, and the benefits of proper disposal.
  • Developed a how-to guide for implementing retail pharmacy-based collection operations so such programs can be replicated in retail pharmacies nationwide, particularly in rural areas.
Alaska, California, Kentucky, Maine, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, 2017
  • Raised awareness of problems and solutions associated with managing five household hazardous wastes (rechargeable batteries, mercury thermostats, paint, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides) in rural, low-income communities through outreach materials and technical support.
  • Increased convenient collection options for mercury thermostats and rechargeable batteries and increased collection quantities.
  • Developed a Pesticide Stewardship Briefing Paper and hosted a National Pesticide Stewardship Webinar Discussion to advance pesticide stewardship and the safe management of unwanted pesticides
  • Conducted three webinars on rechargeable batteries, mercury products, and pharmaceutical take back program strategies, successes, and challenges.

PSI’s Role in Delivering Solutions

Provides technical assistance and support

PSI helps local governments, coalitions, and councils with product-specific work, including expert technical, financial, and political analyses. We also conduct research and surveys on product status and advise on methods of addressing product-specific needs.

Develops Educational Outreach and Marketing Materials

PSI develops and hosts informative webinars, meetings, conferences, and PowerPoint presentations on various products on behalf of local governments. To provide educational outreach and communications support, we develop fact sheets, posters, brochures, press releases, blog posts, FAQs, toolkits, model legislation, and other marketing collateral on an ongoing basis.

Conducts research

PSI offers customized research and strategic consulting services. We will work with the client to develop a scope of work, and implement a project that exceeds expectations.

Provides Member and Partner Benefits

Participants in these programs can receive affiliate or full member benefits (state and local governments) or standard partnership benefits (organizations and corporations)


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Additional resources for Rural Product Stewardship Outreach can be found here.