AUGUSTA – Recycling is not only having an impact on the environment but it’s having a financial impact in towns statewide as well.
In various municipalities across the state recycling– and specifically recycling different types of packaging — has become so expensive that some towns have considered eliminating relying programs completely.
Lawmakers gathered to address this issue, Wednesday morning at the State House.
Many are taught from a young age to reduce, reuse and recycle to help save the environment but with Maine taxpayers on the hook for more than $16 million annually to manage non-recyclable packaging, lawmakers expressed their support for legislation they believed can solve this issue.
“The cost of recycling should be born by the cost of the product, not by property taxpayers in the towns,” said Rep. Ralph Tucker, D-Brunswick.
A new bill lawmakers looked over would create a structure in which multinational corporations would help ensure the long-term viability of recycling for everyone.
“The producers pay fees into a new producer responsibility organization who would compensate municipalities for the cost of recycling,” said Sarah Nichols, the Sustainable Maine Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
But for Kate McAleer, owner of Bixby & Company, this bill only shifts the blame to the producers of the product instead of focusing on who she feels are the real culprits.
“It’s just an issue with the packaging industry, that they’re not providing solutions for companies like mine to purchase. I am eco-minded and I don’t want to continue to put out packing that’s not recyclable but if I can’t purchase packaging this is recyclable then I don’t have a solution to this problem,” McAleer said.
She also said taxing businesses like hers adds another cost that could dramatically affect small business
However, one lawmaker came up with a different solution that is already being used in his district.
“They burn the product and create electricity, hot water and steam. So the solution really, like Sweden, is to import recycling products to use to make energy,” Rep. Dick Campbell, R-Orrington, said.
The bill currently is under review.