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Legislature Approves Bill That Shifts Packaging Costs To Large Companies

Ross D. Franklin
On Dec. 17, 2019, Amazon packages move along a conveyor at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Arizonia.

A bill that aims to reduce packaging waste has cleared the legislature and is headed to Gov. Janet Mills' desk. The proposal would establish what's called an Extended Producer Responsibility program, which shifts the cost of packaging waste to large companies, such as Amazon and Walmart.

Environmental advocacy groups are applauding the legislature's passage of the bill. Francesca Gundrum of Maine Conservation Voters says packaging waste makes up 30 to 40% of the materials managed by Maine's municipal waste management programs.

"And yet these corporations pay nothing for the growing volume of waste they create," Gundrum says. "So they have no incentive to design less wasteful packaging or to ensure that packaging can be recycled to begin with."

The bill would initially apply to businesses that make over $5 million in gross revenue. If signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills, Maine would join European countries and several Canadian Provinces that have what are referred to as 'Extended Producer Responsibility' programs. Packaging industry advocates are urging Mills to veto the bill, saying it would raise costs for consumers.

Oregon's governor is also considering a similar proposal.