Draft language of a bill introduced by state Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth) intended to stabilize recycling programs, collect better data and force large corporations to pay for the recycling of their packaging was introduced last week, a similar measure to a bill approved in committee last year. “Municipalities are struggling under the high and unpredictable costs of disposing of packaging waste and this is not appropriate for the taxpayers to be paying for when they have no say over what the packaging is,” Grohoski said Friday. “We need to shift the cost back to the cost-causers and this bill does that in a way that protects our small businesses, our Maine-based businesses, but makes sure that international corporations are paying their fair share … We’re going after the people that are really the problem and we’re not interested in nitpicking about people that are not part of the problem.”
Grohoski’s bill, L.D. 1541, “An Act to Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money,” is aimed primarily at large companies, ranging from Toshiba to Tostitos. Brands selling products in Maine that make less than $2 million in total gross revenue, sell less than 1 ton of packaging material in total or realize “a majority of gross revenue from the sale of goods acquired through insurance salvages, closeouts, bankruptcies and liquidations” would be exempt. The legislation also includes an option for midsized companies that produce between 1 and 15 tons of packaging waste to pay a flat fee of no more than $500 per ton of packaging.
“This type of system has been in place for over 30 years,” said Sarah Nichols, Sustainable Maine director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). “A lot of these bigger producers are already doing it everywhere else.”