All products cause environmental degradation in some way, whether from their manufacturing, use or disposal. Integrated Product Policy (IPP) seeks to minimise these by looking at all phases of a products' life-cycle and taking action where it is most effective.
The life-cycle of a product is often long and complicated. It covers all the areas from the extraction of natural resources, through their design, manufacture, assembly, marketing, distribution, sale and use to their eventual disposal as waste. At the same time it also involves many different actors such as designers, industry, marketing people, retailers and consumers. IPP attempts to stimulate each part of these individual phases to improve their environmental performance.
With so many different products and actors there can not be one simple policy measure for everything. Instead there is a whole variety of tools - both voluntary and mandatory - that can be used to achieve this objective. These include measures such as economic instruments, substance bans, voluntary agreements, environmental labelling and product design guidelines.