Maine shift recycling costs back to producers of packaging waste, in a US first

US state of Maine has passed a historic new bill for recycling which shifts the responsibility and costs of disposing packaging materials and waste away from consumers and back towards the companies and manufacturers that make them.

The new legislation, which was passed on 13 July, is a first for the US.

Maine’s extended producer responsibility programme for packaging means that companies will now be charged for collecting and recycling cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and other packaging materials, as well as the disposal of any non-recyclable packaging materials. Small businesses and nonprofit organisations are exempt from the law. 

By placing the recycling responsibility onto producers, it is intended to encourage companies to produce less waste.

Sarah Nichols, of the Natural Resources Council of Maine said: “Maybe companies won’t be inclined to ship you something tiny in a box wrapped in another box, all stuffed with plastic bags, because they’ll have to pay for that, not somebody else. It really puts the responsibility where it belongs.

Currently, Maine communities have been estimated to pay more than $15 million to dispose of waste packaging each year.

The income generated from the new programme will go towards local recycling efforts and communities.

Other states in the US including New York and California are now considering similar legislations.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living

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