Maine becomes first state to make corporations pay for recycling

“While we’re first in the U.S., we’re not going to be the last.”

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The state of Maine has just implemented a new law putting the responsibility of recycling costs on the producer rather than the consumer. 

If a corporation does not use sustainable packaging they are responsible for the costs of recycling their products. 

They are calling this new law “An Act To Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money.”

In putting what is essentially an import duty on packaging, Maine is telling companies there is a limit to the amount of reliance they can have on Mainers and municipalities to recycle their material, reports The Good News Network

“It’s really designed to tackle our waste crisis, get us to finally reach our goal of recycling 50 percent of our waste which we set back in 1989 and have never reached. Now with this law there’s going to be more clarity, more incentives to have more clear labeling on a package to help consumers put things in the right bin. In some communities it’ll be the difference between having a recycling program and not,” says Sarah Nichols, Sustainable Maine Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

The majority of small businesses are exempt, reports News Center Maine. The law says that if the producer creates less than one ton of waste per year, or makes under $2 million in gross revenue per year, they would be exempt.

Many other states, like Oregon, are looking to implement similar laws. 

According to The New York Times, the recycling market is a commodities market and can be volatile. And, recycling has become extremely expensive for municipal governments. The idea behind the Maine and Oregon laws is that, with sufficient funding, more of what gets thrown away could be recycled instead of dumped in landfills or burned in incinerators. In other countries with such laws, that has proved to be the case.

Many countries around the world like Canada, South Korea, Japan, and many European Union countries have laws like this in place already. All have seen an increase in the recycling market. 

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