By putting recycling costs on the producer rather than the consumer, Maine becomes the first state in the US to hold businesses accountable for the waste they create.
By putting what is essentially an import duty on packaging, Maine is telling companies that there is a limit to the amount of trust they can have in mainers and municipalities to recycle their material.
If a company uses less than green packaging, it has to pay a management organization (SO) per ton of packaging that they bring into the state.
The SO then analyzes the costs and workload of recycling programs across the state and reimburses them based on the amount and type of material they are processing.
Before the law, the only way to raise money for recycling was more taxes.
“It is truly designed to help address our waste crisis, so that we finally achieve our goal of recycling 50% of our waste, which we left behind in 1989 but never met,” said Sarah Nichols, director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, in an interview with WCSH News.
Nichols hypothesizes that companies will do more to create eco-friendly packaging or to have clear recycling instructions and labels on their products that ensure Mainers don’t put the wrong thing in the wrong container.
Successful companies are usually the most agile; able to adapt to changing market and regulatory conditions, while remaining profitable.
Small producers, whether those making less than $ 2 million gross or generating less than a ton of waste per year, would be exempt from the tax, ensuring that Maine’s small business sector is not burdened with regulatory costs.
Nichols said that while Maine was the first US state to pass a law like this, Oregon has a similar one that is heading to the governor’s desk, and that it is certain they “will not be the last.”
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