Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, my name is Sarah Lakeman and I am the Sustainable Maine Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). I appreciate this opportunity to speak in favor of LD 1649.
NRCM was a strong supporter of Maine’s first-in-the-nation Product Stewardship Framework Law when it was approved by the Legislature in 2009, and we continue to support this law today. Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws are an integral part of waste management in Maine and have worked for decades to keep valuable or toxic materials out of landfills and the environment and saved countless tax-dollars by taking the burden of waste management off local government. Maine’s Product Stewardship Framework law not only fully endorses this concept and its benefits, but it makes it simpler to add new product categories into our suite of product stewardship programs.
When the Framework law was passed, Maine was a leader in product stewardship, having enacted laws covering seven product categories: Beverage containers (1976); Rechargeable Batteries (1991); Mercury Auto Switches (2002); Electronic Waste (2004); Mercury Thermostats (2006); Cell Phones (2007); and Mercury Lamps (2009). Maine added Architectural Paint in 2013, but since then has not passed any EPR laws, and now Vermont and California are leading the nation in product stewardship laws (see attached United States map with EPR laws).
The Department’s suggested amendments to our Framework law are based on experience managing our existing programs that came before it. The Framework law and any amendments made through LD 1649 would only apply to new product categories, although arguably some of the existing laws could benefit from adhering to the Framework law as amended by LD 1649. Specifically, this bill would serve to standardize the way we assess the effectiveness of the programs through producer-funded education and outreach, measurable performance goals, convenience standards, and third party surveys to assess impact; as well as provide other benefits that would allow DEP to initiate changes to the program plan should it be underperforming. These changes would allow DEP to better and more easily monitor, assess, and improve our programs that protect the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens.
As a testament to the Department’s suggested changes to the Framework law, the two EPR bills that are currently under consideration by the Committee already incorporate these additions, LD 1594—the consumer battery bill, and LD 1460—the drug take-back bill. Pending passage of two resolve bills, LD 701 and LD 1431, the Committee may be considering statutory language for both mattresses and packaging during the next short session, as well as potential programs for tobacco product waste as proposed by LD 540. Each of these three bills would greatly benefit from incorporating concepts proposed in LD 1649. With your support, Maine may once again lead the nation in product stewardship laws and continue to divert toxic or valuable materials away from landfills, protect our environment, and save our local governments and taxpayers’ time and money.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments and for continuing to support product stewardship and EPR in Maine. I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
 §1772 of the Framework law reads in part: “It is the policy of the State, consistent with its duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, to promote product stewardship to support the State’s solid waste management hierarchy under chapter 24. In furtherance of this policy, the department may collect information available in the public domain regarding products in the waste stream and assist the Legislature in designating products or product categories for product stewardship programs in accordance with this chapter.”
 DEP’s 2019 Annual Product Stewardship Report also identified Solar Panels and Carpet as potential product categories for EPR laws a well, but there are no bills that currently address these categories.