NRCM news release
Augusta, ME (February 25, 2020) – A bill being heard by lawmakers on Wednesday will help save taxpayers money and improve Maine’s struggling recycling programs by asking large corporations to share in responsibility for managing the flood of wasteful packaging entering the state.
LD 2104 would apply a proven solution called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging that is already being used in 47 jurisdictions across the world, including the entire European Union and five Canadian provinces. EPR creates a structure in which multi-national corporations help ensure the long-term viability of recycling by reimbursing towns for the cost of managing wasteful packaging materials.
“The cost of recycling has skyrocketed, forcing Maine communities to abandon recycling efforts to stem huge price increases that fall on the property taxpayer,” said Rebecca Graham of the Maine Municipal Association. “LD 2104 is a step in the right direction by asking producers to be part of the solution.”
It costs Maine taxpayers more than $16 million annually to manage packaging waste because their towns have no control over the flood of packaging that needs to be disposed of or recycled. 19 municipalities across the state representing more than 211,000 residents have expressed support for LD 2104 because they want to protect taxpayer money and ensure the long-term viability of their recycling programs.
“Nearly 60% of our waste now is comprised of non-recyclable packaging, and we have no option except to include these plastics with our household trash,” said John Shepard, Town of Union selectman and board president of the TriCounty Solid Waste Management Organization. “LD 2104 will help start us down the path of reducing waste by asking packaging manufacturers to share in the responsibility of tackling the mountains and oceans of plastic trash we are producing and bequeathing to our descendants.”
Under EPR, producers of packaging materials would have a direct economic incentive to produce less-wasteful packaging that can be more easily and profitably managed by municipalities. Hundreds of international brands sold in Maine including Amazon, Best Buy, Kimberly Clark, Hasbro, Home Depot, McDonald’s, Mattel, Nabisco, Samsung, Tyson, Unilever, and Wal-Mart are already participating in existing EPR programs worldwide.
“Taxpayers have for too long been paying for a waste problem they didn’t create,” said Sarah Nichols, Sustainable Maine Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “LD 2104 will make Maine’s recycling programs more effective, sustainable, and equitable by incentivizing waste reduction and requiring producers to compensate municipalities for recycling costs.”
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection drafted LD 2104 in response to a resolve passed by the Maine Legislature in 2019. The bill will receive a public hearing before the Legislature’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday February 26, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 216 of the Cross Building in Augusta.
To learn more about LD 2104 visit recyclingreform.org or listen to a 12-minute explainer on Soundcloud with NRCM’s Sarah Nichols.