Maine becomes first state in the country to pass law that charges corporations that do not use sustainable packaging materials

Author: Chris Costa (NEWS CENTER Maine)

Published: 6:38 PM EDT July 13, 2021

Updated: 6:39 PM EDT July 13, 2021

MAINE, USA — A new law in Maine will shift the cost of recycling from cities and towns and place the onus on the corporations that use certain packaging materials in shipping and packaging of their products.

The law, LD 1541, called "An Act To Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money," forces companies that use less-than-eco-friendly packaging materials, such as plastics, to pay for each ton of those materials that they send into the state. That money then gets passed along to cities and towns to pay to recycle those materials.

Prior to the law, cities and towns would have to charge taxpayers more for the cost of recycling.

"It's really designed to tackle our waste crisis, get us to finally reach our goal of recycling 50 percent of our waste which we set back in 1989 and have never reached," said Sarah Nichols, Sustainable Maine Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. "Now with this law there's going to be more clarity, more incentives to have more clear labeling on a package to help consumers put things in the right bin. In some communities it'll be the difference between having a recycling program and not."

A new Stewardship Organization will be formed to administer the program, track progress toward goals, and report back to the State.  Producers pay annual fees to the SO that are based on the amount and type of packaging they sell into Maine. Then the SO reimburses municipalities annually for the costs they have incurred because of that packaging.

Municipalities that participate will have to collect a set list of materials to participate.

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