Environmentally responsible packaging appears to be the next big green trend as Maine introduces a new law that shifts the cost of recycling from municipalities to corporations, according to News Center Maine.
"An Act To Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money" is a new law that forces companies to use sustainable product packaging so that costs burdens of recycling or disposing of the materials, such as styrofoam, are not passed along to cities and towns. If companies don't comply, they will be fined.
Cities and towns have been primarily responsible for recycling and disposing of trash.
E-commerce sales in the last few years, supercharged by the virus pandemic, have resulted in an unprecedented amount of packages delivered to customers' homes. In return, packaging ends up in waste in landfills or is recycled. The more trash, the more a municipality has to pay, thus increasing taxes.
"It's really designed to tackle our waste crisis, get us to finally reach our goal of recycling 50 percent of our waste which we set back in 1989 and have never reached," said Sarah Nichols, Sustainable Maine Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
"Now with this law there's going to be more clarity, more incentives to have more clear labeling on a package to help consumers put things in the right bin. In some communities, it'll be the difference between having a recycling program and not," Nichols said.
Do you know about the new #maine law that shifts the costs of #recycling from taxpayers to corporations? @NRCMenvironment Sarah Nichols gives a brief explanation. More on @newscentermaine at 4 and 5:30. pic.twitter.com/7hr7tbC7aL— Chris Costa (@ChrisCostaTV) July 13, 2021
"We have a really systematic way of moving more materials to be paid for by producers and companies that make them and not taken care of by the communities and taxpayers," said Nichols. "Somebody has to pay for this for recycling and packaging waste and right now it's towns and taxpayers that do it piecemeal throughout the state, and they're just reacting to all the packaging they're getting. This is a much more efficient, fair way to approach this problem."
Main's goal of recycling 50% of its waste has never been reached, according to Nichols.
She said Oregon's Legislature had sent a similar bill to the state's Governor's desk to be put into law.
"While we're first in the U.S., we're not going to be the last," she added.
Either way, consumers are not actually saving money. Either they're going to pay higher taxes or pay higher prices for goods (because environmentally responsible packaging will be passed along to consumers).