SGIA Responds to Maine’s Request for Information on EPR Program

In 2019, the Maine State Legislature passed a “Resolve to Support Maine Recycling Programs” which directed the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to develop legislation to establish an extended producer responsibility law for packaging sold in that state. It is expected that this legislation will be introduced in 2020. Their conceptual model would establish a cost share program that internalizes the cost of municipal management of end of life packaging within the purchase price of the product and provides incentives for producers of packaging to use less packaging as well as packaging that is more recyclable.

In its September 2019 comment, SGIA listed several key concerns with the proposed framework. One concerning the definition offered on “readily recyclable” that lists specific materials. By listing only specific materials, we feel that the state has already shut the door to any new materials that are developed that could also be recycled by either current technologies or emerging recycling technologies, such as chemical recycling. While the definition does state “...not limited to...”, the question remains how will state determine if other materials are readily recyclable? Will this involve a regulatory process? Is there any interest on the part of the state to explore compostable packaging? And, if so, how would this fit into the current program development?

SGIA continued that these questions do bleed over into the discussion points related to costs and funding. If materials are developed that can be recycled by means that are not currently employed by municipalities, will the program then ask the municipalities to invest in future recycling technologies that would accept these new materials? We ask this question as we believe one fundamental outcome of these programs is the development of new materials that can be recycled, possibly by different recycling technologies. An example is the increased emphasis on the use of compostable packaging.

SGIA concluded by stating that we believe that in order for this program to truly succeed it needs to have the ability to change and adapt as the recycling landscape changes.

For more information on this topic, please contact SGIA’s Government Affairs Department at govtaffairs@sgia.org.