A law signed by Gov. Janet Mills on July 27 will set up a government panel under the state Department of Environmental Regulation to collect per-package fees from beverage bottlers and other consumer goods marketers. These yet-to-be-determined fees will be distributed to Maine municipalities to allay the cost of landfilling, recycling and other disposal methods. The fees will be structured so that the harder a package is to recycle, the higher the cost. It’s been estimated that Maine pays $6 million a year to dispose of packaging.
The law will not go into effect until the state sets up the packaging disposal panel and it puts together the fee structure, a process that will take up to two years. It exempts companies with sales of less than $2 million a year and those that can prove they generate less than a ton of packaging waste annually.
Similar legislation is under consideration in about a dozen other states. In Oregon, a “polluter pays” measure has passed the legislature and is on the governor’s desk.