As a Maine business focused on waste reduction, we hear first-hand from Maine residents who are frustrated by overly packaged products. Consumers are told to reduce their waste, but rarely are low- and no-waste options available to them on the shelves. At Go Go Refill, we’re changing that because we believe low-waste options should be available to all. Because we want to be part of the solution, we helped Maine consumers prevent the need for almost 20,000 disposable plastic packages, in year one alone! It is clear from our experience that businesses have a huge role to play in solving the plastic pollution and recycling crises facing our communities.
That is why we support Recycling Reform. We need to raise the bar so that more businesses, the big out-of-state corporations in particular, do their part like we are. Recycling Reform raises the standards on packaging so that big corporations have an incentive to be part of the solution. This will bring better options to market, making it much easier for Maine’s small businesses to invest in better packaging that will reduce more waste. Maine’s small business owners don’t want to be the only ones trying to solve this problem, and we need Recycling Reform to level the playing field, and make waste management more fair.
I started my business because we are in the midst of a global plastic pollution crisis, and I wanted to try to play a part in stemming the tide of plastic waste. Our reliance on single-use plastic and packaged goods has created a catastrophe for waste management facilities, recycling efforts across the world — and oceans and marine life as well. The weakening of recycling programs across Maine and the world has captured the attention of consumers and taxpayers who want to dispose of their waste properly, and have come to rely on their municipalities to offer recycling services. It is dismaying to watch recycling centers across Maine reduce the waste they will accept, or close their doors altogether, leaving their townspeople holding the bag — literally.
But there’s a better way. It’s called Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging (EPR), and we know it works because there are examples of it all over the world! EPR for Packaging is already underway in many countries, and even five provinces in Canada, meaning that many of the larger producers are already participating in similar programs. And the research shows that these programs produce recycling rates double what we see here in Maine. There also proves to be no increase in the cost of the products for consumers, because these laws have shown to save brands money.
Right now, the Maine State Legislature is considering whether to adopt a EPR for Packaging law in Maine. Here’s how it would work: large brand owners that sell products in Maine will be required to share the cost of managing the waste created with their packaging. But here’s the cool part, they will pay less if their packaging is easily recyclable, or if they use less packaging, creating an incentive for brands to design with the end of the lifecycle in mind! The law targets giant corporations like Amazon and Walmart and a large portion of Maine’s small businesses will be completely exempt.
It’s time to make recycling work for the taxpayers and for Maine’s local small businesses, not for corporations.
—by Laura Marston, Owner of Go Go Refill