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Committee Endorses Bill That Would Make Companies Pay For Disposal Of Packaging In Maine

Ross D. Franklin
FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo, Amazon packages move along a conveyor at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

When Maine consumers buy something from companies large and small, they must often pay to dispose of all the cardboard and plastic that it's packaged in.

But businesses could soon shoulder more of those costs under a bill that's moving through the Legislature.

It's become expensive for Maine communities to recycle their household trash, and as a result, they're sending more of it to the landfill. But Maine could soon be the first state in the nation to try a different approach.

Representative Nicole Grohoski, an Ellsworth Democrat, has sponsored a bill that would make companies pay a fee when they sell packaged products in Maine.

Those funds would then be paid out to communities to help them recycle.

Grohoski says the program would incentivize companies to use less bulky or toxic packing materials, and she thinks it would be particularly helpful for rural communities which must often pay to ship their trash long distances.

"We know that most municipalities want to offer recycling programs, if they don’t, or to improve them, and we know that people want to recycle, and it’s a matter of creating a system that people can use that doesn’t cost them money out of municipal budgets," Grohoski says.

Some companies have opposed the bill. They argue it would push up prices.

But on Monday, the Legislature's natural resources committee voted eight-to-three to recommend an amended version of Grohoski's bill, and it voted against a similar bill from Sen. James Dill of Old Town that had more protections for industry.

The head of Maine's Department of Environmental Protection did not take a position on Grohoski's bill, but she said that it has exemptions for small businesses that are appealing to Gov. Janet Mills.

Corrected: June 11, 2021 at 2:17 PM EDT
An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that the Maine DEP commissioner supported Grohoski's amended bill. In fact, she spoke neither for nor against the bill.