Energy & Environment

Maine shifting recycling costs to companies


Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has signed into law legislation to make the state the first in the country to shift recycling costs from taxpayers to packing manufacturers. 

The law, which was passed by the state Senate and House earlier this month, officially implements an extended producer responsibility program, known as “EPR for Packaging.” 

The program will establish a “packaging stewardship fund,” which will include payments from packing producers “based on the amount, whether by weight or volume, of packaging material sold, offered for sale or distributed for sale in or into the State by each producer and to reimburse participating municipalities for certain municipal recycling and waste management costs,” according to the bill text. 

The legislation states that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will put in place rules for the implementation and enforcement of the program on or before Dec. 31, 2023. 

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Nicole Grohoski, said in a statement that the legislation follows similar programs established in some Canadian provinces and European countries. 

“I’m proud that, once again, Maine is a national leader when it comes to commonsense environmental protections,” Grohoski said in a statement on Tuesday following news of the bill’s signing. 

“This new law assures every Maine community that help with recycling and lowering the property tax burden is on the way,” the state lawmaker continued. “It’s time for packaging producers to take responsibility for their waste stream in the Pine Tree State, as they do in more than 40 other countries and regions worldwide.” 

Grohoski said that the stewardship organization will be overseen by the state environmental protection agency, with producer payments going toward the program’s operational costs and department fees, as well as “investments in education and infrastructure to reduce future packaging waste in Maine.” 

Maine has previously enacted similar legislation aiming to cut down on consumer waste, including a law passed almost 20 years ago that requires manufacturers to pay for recycling electronics. 

Additionally, a ban on foam food containers that was passed by the state legislature in 2019 is set to go into effect this year. 

This week’s packaging legislation received pushback from business groups like the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association, who argued that supply chains and grocery costs could be negatively impacted by the new program, The Washington Post reported. 

However, the law mandates certain exemptions under the program, including for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Tags consumer Janet Mills Maine Packaging Recycling taxpayers The Washington Post

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