by Matt Prindiville, NRCM Clean Production Project Director
Governor Baldacci’s signing of “An Act to Provide for the Responsible Recycling of Consumer Products” (L.D. 1631)
“Today, Maine takes an important step toward creating a sustainable economy for the health of our environment, Maine families, and our children’s future. It’s critically important that we minimize the use of toxic substances in consumer products and create comprehensive systems to reuse and recycle the materials in our products.
“This law establishes a process for the state to systematically evaluate and establish product stewardship programs for hard-to-recycle products and packaging. It also reviews existing product stewardship programs to ensure that they are working for Maine people and businesses.
“Product stewardship programs ensure producers collect and safely recycle their products at the end of the product’s useful life. This promotes the sustainable reuse of materials and can prevent the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment. In addition, these product stewardship programs can reduce costs for local governments and taxpayers and create jobs through the collection and recycling of formerly discarded products.
“A great example is our state’s e-waste law, which requires manufacturers to collect and recycle computers, printers, televisions, game consoles, and more. This law has been extremely successful, recycling over 25 million pounds of toxic electronic waste and keeping millions of pounds of lead, mercury, arsenic, and toxic brominated flame-retardants out of landfills and incinerators and out of Maine’s environment. It’s even helped to create new jobs through the collection and recycling of the e-waste. Since Maine’s path-breaking law was passed, 24 states and the vast majority of the nation’s population now has, or soon will have, e-waste programs that are modeled after Maine’s law.
“Thanks to this new law, Maine people will have increased opportunities to responsibly recycle products that don’t currently have good disposal options. Product stewardship programs help to put the right incentives in place so that products are designed to be recycled instead of land-filled or incinerated.
“While concerned about the potential costs associated with product stewardship programs, Maine’s business community worked with us to create a fair process that evaluates new products for product stewardship programs in a transparent way, ensuring adequate review and stakeholder involvement. We took the Chamber’s comments seriously, and made significant changes to the original bill, which resulted in a consensus among Maine’s environmental community, Maine towns, and Maine business interests.”