Maine

Hold on to Your Butts, Maine!

Active | February 13 2019

Plastic Pollution

The Maine Chapter is working with our Northeast Regional Manager to support the passage of a bill that would require manufacturers of cigarettes to be more accountable for the littering of cigarette butts!

UPDATES

After multiple work sessions to flesh out the policy mechanisms and opportunities for this concept draft, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted on February 27, 2020 to pass the bill favorably forward as amended.

Unfortunately, the amendment moves away from extended producer responsibility for managing cigarette butt waste, and instead merely clarifies that butts are in fact a serious form of litter. 

The bill was passed by both chambers on March 17, 2020, and signed into law by Governor Mills on March 18, 2020.

While tossing butts into the environment is already considered littering in Maine, law enforcement officers have to date not been vigorous in assessing fines for this type of littering. LD544 could help  inspire heightened enforcement of litter laws to motivate a shift in thinking about butts, and help smokers connect to their responsibility in ensuring proper disposal. 

Meanwhile, we will continue to advocate for policy solutions that place producers of butts on notice for their role in ensuring a curb in this serious plastic pollution, water quality and litter problem. We will be working with legislative sponsors to advocate for an EPR for butts bill again in the next legislative session, getting into full gear in January 2021.

The Maine Chapter is also considering working with municipalities to install more ashcans at key entry points to beaches and parks near waterways feeding into the ocean to help curb the rate at which butts are entering the ecosystem and inspire smokers to think critically about their accountability for this significant problem.

YOU CAN HELP

Consider emailing or calling your state house and senate elected to let them know that you support EPR for cigarette butts, and look forward to a future iteration of the legislation that dives back into extended producer responsibility. Give a shout if you need contact info!

HISTORIC ACCOUNT

LD544, An Act To Create Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-consumer Waste Generated from the Use of Tobacco Products is sponsored by Maine House Representative Lydia Blume, and started out as a concept draft that sought to establish a system under which producers of tobacco products develop, finance and implement stewardship programs to collect, transport, process and safely dispose of post-consumer tobacco waste to reduce, prevent and mitigate the environmental effects of the disposal of that waste in the State.

The bill was introduced in the first regular session of the 129th Maine State Legislature with a public hearing on March 27, 2019, but was carried over by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee to the 2nd regular session, which will commence on January 8, 2020. The Surfrider Foundation will be picking up work on this bill as it moves through committee, helping inform the process of developing the concept draft based on ideas informed by California's SB424, which similarly holds manufacturers accountable for waste produced in our environment from the products they make.

You can learn more about a program we run at Surfrider Foundation called Hold on to Your Butts on our Beachapedia site! This program encourages smokers to retain their butts for proper disposal at all times, and especially where there are excellent policies in place to prohibit smoking in sensitive environmental areas, like on beaches, and places where all members of the public should be able to enjoy access to our shared natural resources, free from any individual's choice to engage in activity that presents significant risks to human health and the environment, like smoking.

Plastic Pollution

Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.

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