Driving to collect recycling fees from packers, but the industry struggles

Portland, Maine (Associated Press)-U.S. states are seeking to adopt a new recycling system that requires packaging manufacturers to pay for their inevitable disposal-but the industry is working hard to stop this movement.

Maine became the first state to adopt such a plan in July, when Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill. Request manufacturers of products involving packaging materials Pay the new national fund. The fund will be used to reimburse the municipality’s recycling and waste management costs.

Oregon has approved a similar bill and is awaiting the signing of Democratic Governor Kate Brown, and at least six other state legislatures have similar bills pending, said Yinka Bode-George, environmental health manager of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. She said that lawmakers in at least four other states have also expressed interest in such bills.

States with active bills — most of which are Democratic leaning — include influential large economies such as New York and California. Environmentalists in these and other states believe that the cost of packaging disposal should have long been transferred from taxpayers to manufacturers.

Bode-George said that more laws like Maine will incentivize the industry to stop manufacturing excessive packaging from the beginning. “This culture of throwing away once is part of the problem,” she added. “For the producers of these materials, it is important to truly own them.”

The Maine bill aims to reduce plastic, cardboard, paper and other packaging waste by requiring what the state calls “producer payment.” Companies can reduce payments by implementing their own independent recycling program or simply reducing packaging. These costs will be donated to a private organization that will reimburse the municipality for recycling and waste management costs and invest in education aimed at reducing packaging and improving recycling.

Proposed law in Oregon It is slightly different because it requires packaging producers and manufacturers to create a non-profit organization that is responsible for drawing up recycling plans for packaging materials.

Advocates of these strategies sometimes call them “extended producer responsibility.” They are widely used in Europe and some provinces in Canada. The National Waste and Recycling Association, a trade organization based in Virginia, said that when these programs focus on “incentives to create new markets for recycled materials,” it can support such programs because all these recyclables need buyers. .

“The most important thing is that it has a market,” said Brandon Wright, a spokesman for the group.

But these measures have aroused strong opposition from several sectors of American industry, which are generally worried that the new law will push up the cost of doing business in some states. Industry members said that the new recycling obligations may cause companies to withdraw from these states or pass costs on to consumers.

Dan Felton, executive director of the organization, said that the American Institute of Packaging and Environmental Studies (AMERIPEN), which represents the packaging industry, has asked Mills to veto the Maine bill and plans to play a role in the upcoming rulemaking process on the bill. positive effects.

AMERIPEN hopes to work with Maine to develop different new recycling programs, but the approved law puts “maine producers and people out of the process, and is forced to pay for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection as the only system. “Decision makers,” Felton said.

The proposed recycling law has also aroused opposition from industries that do not directly engage in packaging but rely on packaging. Robert Luria, Government Relations Manager at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, told a state committee that Maine laws “have the potential to increase the inefficiency of Maine’s recycling system.”

Recycling, especially plastic recycling, has been further complicated China decided to stop accepting plastic waste from other countries.

Advocates say that the new recycling bill can help solve the waste disposal problem by reducing reliance on single-use plastic products. Sarah Nichols of the Maine Natural Resources Commission stated that the Maine bill sends “a strong signal that it is time for big companies and brands to do their best to curb plastic pollution and reduce waste packaging. It’s a part of the power.”

In Maine, industry representatives who opposed the bill knew that changes were coming and were working with the state to develop acceptable rules.

Christine Cummings, executive director of the Maine Grocers and Food Manufacturers Association, said the industry is also preparing for other states to follow the example of Maine.

“I think this is just the beginning of the program’s development in Maine and across the country,” Cummings said.


Follow Patrick Whittle on Twitter: @pxwhittle

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