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 to you in support of LD 710.
NRCM is a strong advocate of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, where producers are responsible for the post-consumer recovery of their products. Maine’s existing EPR programs work and keep valuable and/or toxic materials from landfills and incinerators; these programs have an enormous added benefit of shifting the costs of managing materials away from taxpayers. Mattresses have long been identified as a potential candidate for an EPR program in Maine, since they meet each of the five criteria in our product stewardship framework law. The vast majority of mattresses in our state are sent for disposal, where they present operational challenges at landfills. We believe that this resolve will prompt much needed stakeholder discussions that will eventually lead to a bill that will help Maine recycle our mattresses. I’ve attached a graphic describing how mattresses are recycled for your convenience.
Three other states (CT, CA, and RI) currently have an EPR program for mattresses, managed by an industry group called the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), and the program is called Bye-Bye Mattress. This program has significantly increased mattress recycling, collecting a combined 4.5 million mattresses so far. In each state there is a visible fee at the point of sale, rather than at disposal, so that the consumers are paying for the cost of the mattress recycling program when they purchase the mattress. The mattress industry is supportive of the existing programs because of this visible user fee. However, in Maine, due to our geographic constraints, low population density, and distance from a recycling facility, it’s possible that our user fee may be very high. We agree with DEP in their 2019 Product Stewardship Report that some form of cost-internalization may be needed for the Bye-Bye Mattress program to work well here.
|Per-unit fee added to mattresses sold with Bye-Bye Mattress Stewardship Program|
Another idea to consider is what was proposed in LD 349, An Act to Facilitate the Recycling of Discarded Mattresses, sponsored by Sen. Saviello in 2017. This bill proposed to levy a small $5 fee on each mattress sold, and used $4 of that fee for a state-managed fund to help municipalities manage and recycling discarded mattresses. This bill was popular, and was passed by the Legislature before it was vetoed by the governor. This veto was overridden in the Senate 33-1; and the House failed to override by a vote of 75-61. I’ve attached a copy of this bill for your convenience.
NRCM believes that an EPR program for mattresses is inevitable in Maine, and we urge you to move forward by supporting this resolve to design the right program for our state. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
- Infographic: What happens when a mattress is recycled?
- LD 349, An Act to Facilitate the Recycling of Discarded Mattresses—as amended by the Committee in 2017.
 Products are good candidates if one or more of the following criteria are met: A. The product or product category is found to contain toxics that pose the risk of an adverse impact to the environment or public health and safety; B. A product stewardship program for the product will increase the recovery of materials for reuse and recycling; C. A product stewardship program will reduce the costs of waste management to local governments and taxpayers; D. There is success in collecting and processing similar products in programs in other states or countries; and E. Existing voluntary product stewardship programs for the product in the State are not effective in achieving the policy of this chapter.
 Oregon is also very close to passing a similar program; but with some variances compared to CT, CA, and RI.