Active | November 04 2019
The Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) will be holding a series of presentations on packaging stewardship programs implemented in other jurisdictions.
What: Draft Agenda
When: January 22, 2020, 9am - 12pm
We'll be there! Send word if you'd like to meet up and attend together.
Maine passed a law 30 years ago establishing a 50% recycling goal. Since then, the state recycling rate has remained stagnant at a mere 40%. Our fragmented US recycling infrastructure was exposed when other nations began refusing our tainted bails. Since then, recycling rates across the nation are falling and many local recovery centers have closed their doors.
We know that recycling is A key to our plastic pollution crisis but it is not THE key. We cannot recycle, educate or repackage our way out of this problem. To stop plastic pollution, we must stop making plastic.
That said, recycling is an important part of the waste stream hierarchy! Working to reduce the amount of plastic made in the first place while at the same time improving packaging design, recyclability, and processes (including processing and distribution) will help us achieve goals of less waste and less plastic pollution.
Surfrider does not believe that recycling programs should be paid for solely by taxpayers and municipalities who have no say in what materials they are stuck managing. Instead, manufacturers that put products on our shelves should be required to package them in sustainable ways.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) for plastic and packaging gets us an important step closer to this goal. Rather than putting consumers on the hook for proper disposal of goods they buy packaged on store shelves -- many of which are either not recyclable or cannot be locally recycled or reclaimed and so go straight to the landfill or incinerator to create more toxins and stress on our planet -- producers are instead held accountable for packaging.
This incentivizes packaging reform at the source of manufacture, requiring companies to package goods in a responsible manner that both reduces waste by creative design before it is generated (source reduction) and also provides a clear pathway for proper recovery or disposal of materials when the consumer is done with the product.
Luckily, LD1431 passed in the 2019 legislative session requiring the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to look at EPR as a way to help reform Maine's recycling system. On December 16, 2019, the DEP was to release its recommendations, including a draft bill. An extension was granted, and when the DEP addressed the ENR Committee on this issue on January 8, at 1pm - opening day of the Second Regular Session in 2020 - the draft became public.
The ENR committee voted unanimously to send the draft bill to be written and officially introduced as an LD, which when complete will bring the measure to public hearing.
As there is substantial work to be done yet by the DEP and other stakeholders to complete the bill, drafting may take a little more time than originally anticipated. However, both the House and Senate chairs today affirmed that this is likely the most important bill that will come before them this session and they are eager to move it forward through the public process. We'll keep this page updated with ways to engage. Please email for any additional information!
Coupled with source reduction strategies, EPR will help Maine tackle plastic pollution by holding polluters accountable for the packaging waste they generate, which will incentivize them to package goods in less wasteful and costly ways. #Winning! :D
A Surfrider action alert and public link to the DEP report are coming soon! In the meantime, we hope you will sign this petition from our friends at the Natural Resources Council of Maine to show your support and join or renew your Surfrider membership to help support this important work.
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.Learn More