FILE - Recycling bin, recycling truck

Maine lawmakers are considering a first-in-the-nation bill that would make packaging producers pay municipalities for the cost of recycling certain types of packing materials.

Members of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee recently held a public hearing about potential implementation of LD 2104, “An Act to Support and Increase the Recycling of Packaging,” which is sponsored by Rep. Ralph Tucker, D-Brunswick.

As the cost of recycling programs has risen in recent years due to Chinese restrictions on acceptable recyclables, governments in Europe and Canada have adopted similar programs, which are known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

According to figures from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the state spends about $17 million on packaging disposal.

Amy Volk, director of communications and public relations at Volk Packaging, said the bill could lead to a $16 million to $23 million increase in business costs, according to The Maine Wire.

Environmental stewardship will reduce taxpayer burden, supporters of the bill said during the hearing.

In a report posted on the Portland Press Herald, Mark Draper, solid waste director for Aroostook Waste Solutions, which works in 20 northern Maine towns, said EPR programs can help prevent recycling price increases from being passed to taxpayers.

Speaking against the bill were several leaders from local businesses and industry trade associations, who emphasized there are other ways to address rising recycling costs.

Tucker said that recycling costs Brunswick nearly $140,000 annually, much more than it would to dispose of the waste in a landfill.

If the law is passed, the process of setting rules would likely start at the end of next year.

– The Center Square