Maine’s new Extended Producer Responsibility Law follows others in 40 jurisdictions around the world and builds on Maine’s existing EPR laws for handling difficult-to-dispose waste. Sponsored by state Rep. Nicole Grohoski, D-Ellsworth, “An Act to Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayers Money” became law and took effect July 12. But businesses probably won’t see its implementation until 2024.
The law establishes a producer-funded stewardship program operated by a contracted stewardship organization. Producers of products using packaging materials, like Amazon boxes, plastic packing pillows, bread bags or take-out containers, pay into a fund based on the amount by weight of packaging material.
The funds will reimburse municipalities for their recycling and waste management costs, cover operational costs of the stewardship program and go to education and infrastructure aimed at reducing packaging waste and improving recycling outcomes in the state. “The fees are paid annually by the ton, and not per container so it’s not as tedious as it may seem,” Sarah Nichols, of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, told Mainebiz. She cited British Columbia’s similar EPR law as an example of how Maine’s could work.