PORTLAND, Maine: States throughout America are attempting to pass bills that would make the commercial users of packaging pay for disposal costs.
Maine was the first state in the country to impose payments in July, as manufacturers of packaging were required to pay into a new state fund. The fund will reimburse municipalities for recycling and waste management costs.
Oregon has passed a similar bill that is awaiting the Governor's signature, while six other states have similar bills pending.
"This culture of throwing things away after one use is part of the problem," said Yinka Bode-George of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, as quoted by the Associated Press. "It's important for the producers of these materials to really take ownership of them."
Maine's bill is meant to reduce the amount of plastic, cardboard, paper and other packaging waste. Manufacturers will be required to pay a sliding scale for recycling.
Oregon's law would require producers and manufacturers of packaging to create a nonprofit group to develop a recycling plan for packaging materials.
Similar programs to reduce packaging materials are in use in Europe and some parts of Canada.
Meanwhile, American industry is fighting back.
The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment, which represents the packaging industry, had asked Maine's governor to veto the bill and plans to play an active role in an upcoming rule-making process, said Dan Felton, the group's executive director.
He argues that the bill leaves "producers and the people of Maine on the outside of the process and forced to foot the bill for a system where the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is the sole decision-maker," Felton said.