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Maine hammering out rules for program to make manufacturers pay for packaging recycling costs

Troy R. Bennett
Bangor Daily News
Workers at ecomaine sort recyclable materials at the plant in Portland, April 17, 2013.

The state is moving toward a system that would help cities and towns pay for their recycling efforts.

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing Thursday on the program, created by a law passed three years ago. It requires manufacturers pay for the cost of recycling their packaging.

"Producers of products, they'll pay a fee based on the packaging they put into the state. That fee will be collected by a stewardship organization that's overseen by the Department." says the Brian Beneski with the Department of Environmental Protection.

Beneski says the money collected will go first to cities and towns to offset the cost of recycling programs.

"The funds that don't go directly toward the recycling costs will also be made available to make improvements to the state's recycling infrastructure and also to education outreach efforts to help educate the public on how to recycle and how to recycle in a manner that it reduces contamination in the recycling stream," he says.

Oregon, Colorado and California have enacted similar requirements. Beneski says Maine is trying to work with those states to minimize any problems companies encounter as they begin to comply with the new recycling fees.

"We've tried to keep track of how they're doing so that we're doing lines up so the producers don't have to do separate things for separate states," he says.

The department is in the process of drafting rules and contracting with the so-called stewardship organization. The first fees are not expected to be collected until 2027.