Press release

Packaging recycling: Shifting costs to increase business responsibility

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 7:15am

The immense amount of plastic, cardboard, and styrofoam packaging that is included in goods we buy online and in stores ends up in the Boothbay region’s Transfer Station, where it is bundled and sold (currently at lower than profitable prices) for further recycling. Why shouldn’t businesses pay their share of recycling costs in Maine, as they do in many other countries? Why should municipalities, transfer stations, and consumers bear the whole burden?

The committee for a Plastic-free Peninsula (PFP) in the Boothbay region, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), supports enactment of LD 2104, which would establish Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in our state. EPR-based systems successfully shift costs of managing recycling of packaging materials from municipalities and taxpayers to the producers of packaging materials. Instituting an EPR system in Maine also is expected to incentivize packaging producers to seek savings through development of less bulky, more environmentally friendly packaging products, thus reducing their negative environmental impact.

The EPR approach to recycling is already used effectively in all 28 countries in the European Union, Australia, Brazil, and Canada. Amazon, Walmart, and other businesses are already paying the costs of packaging in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere.

Hearings on LD 2104 will begin on Feb. 26 in the Maine legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Joint Standing Committee. PFP recommends support of the bill and suggests that you contact your local legislators to say so. It would be helpful if you also sign the petition that is now in circulation under the auspices of NRCM at the following website: under the heading “How You Can Help.” That website also offers more information on the introduction of EPR systems in Maine.

EPR for packaging is already effectively used across the world, including in Australia, Brazil, and Canada, all 28 countries in the EU, and Russia. These systems successfully shift costs of managing recycling from taxpayers to the producers of packaging materials and increase recycling rates to well over 50%, which is an important way to save our finite natural resources.