Want to recycle better? Get manufacturers involved.
Who should pay to recycle all that plastic, paper, and other packaging that come into homes, from milk bottles to those seemingly impenetrable plastic wrappers surrounding electronic gadgets?
The companies selling products, not consumers, should bear that responsibility, says a law just enacted in Maine. That shift in thought, if it continues to spread more widely, could go a long way toward saving struggling local recycling programs, and result in less packaging that is more easily recycled and the reduction of greenhouse gases.
The Maine law sets up a nonprofit group to supervise recycling. Companies will pay fees to the nonprofit based on how much packaging they sell in the state – and how easily recyclable it is.
The nonprofit then will distribute these funds to cities and towns to help them pay for their recycling programs, now funded with taxpayer dollars. Importantly, the system will also clarify and standardize just what is and isn’t recyclable.
Several other U.S. states are considering similar legislation, often referred to as extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws.