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HomeNewsMaine's Pioneering EPR Packaging Law Nears Implementation

Maine's Pioneering EPR Packaging Law Nears Implementation


Less than three years into its groundbreaking journey, Maine introduced a pioneering Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging, making it a trailblazer in the United States. The state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now finalizing guidelines under the guidance of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) to bring this visionary policy to life.


The Environmental Protection Board is on track to finalize and approve these guidelines by early 2024. The initiative aims to lighten the financial load on taxpayers and enhance recycling rates by motivating companies to design packaging that's easier on the environment and contributes to recycling efforts.


Historically, in Maine like in many other U.S. states, the burden of managing packaging waste has fallen on taxpayers and local governments. NRCM's findings suggest that packaging constitutes 30-40% of the waste stream.


Despite numerous efforts over the years, Maine has struggled to meet its 50% recycling goal. In contrast, countries with well-established EPR policies report recycling rates of 60% to 70%, showcasing the significant impact these policies can have on improving recycling efforts.


The challenges of recycling in Maine have led several communities to scale back or completely halt their recycling programs, primarily due to the escalating costs and logistical hurdles, resorting to landfills as a temporary fix. This approach not only poses a significant financial burden but also exacerbates the issue of landfill overcapacity.


The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging initiative in Maine sets forth bold, yet achievable, objectives to foster universal participation across communities, making recycling more convenient and cost-effective, as highlighted by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).


Under the DEP's plan, a new Stewardship Organization (SO) will emerge to meticulously evaluate Maine's current recycling efforts and pinpoint where additional support can boost efficiency and effectiveness across communities.


The implementation of this legislation promises significant financial incentives for manufacturers to redesign packaging for better environmental outcomes—reducing waste, lowering toxicity, and improving recyclability. This change will benefit all communities, including those that may require more time to fully integrate comprehensive recycling solutions, by improving the design and collection processes for packaging.


The EPR for Packaging Law, which garnered bipartisan approval and the support of 79% of Maine's electorate, positions Maine as a forerunner in sustainable packaging management.


As Maine demonstrates its commitment and results, it's anticipated that a multitude of other states will observe and potentially adopt similar EPR measures for packaging, spearheaded by the efforts and expectations of the NRCM.


How You Can Join the EPR for Packaging Movement


We're rallying everyone in Maine — individuals, towns, and local businesses — to get involved in the DEP’s rule-making process for the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging. We'll keep our supporters informed about its progress.


There's much we can do to support and enhance Maine's EPR for Packaging law until it's fully operational.


Local governments should keep investing in their recycling programs, with the reassurance that assistance is on its way. Our fact sheet offers vital insights for municipalities about the new EPR legislation.


Maine residents should continue their efforts in minimizing waste, reusing, and recycling. It's crucial to engage in local and state policies and initiatives that align with and support EPR.


Businesses and manufacturers should keep working towards reducing waste and opting for more eco-friendly packaging options, as these efforts will lead to lower fees from the stewardship organization. Local businesses can consult our fact sheet to learn about potential fees and strategies to reduce them.


EPR supporters in other states should continue to push forward. Following Maine's footsteps, Oregon, Colorado, and California have adopted similar laws. We've compiled Advocacy Resources for EPR for Packaging, offering valuable information to aid other states in adopting comparable legislation.

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