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Push firms on package waste

The following letter to the editor by Paul Goldberg of Arlington was first published in the July 27 Boston Globe, and is republished with the author's permission.

"Follow Maine’s lead and push firms on the costs their packaging creates"

Congratulations to Maine for being the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring companies selling packaged products to assume responsibility for the cost of recycling and disposal of their packaging (“Firms on the hook for packaging waste,” Page A1, July 21). 

This extended producer responsibility, or EPR, law is a game changer for managing municipal waste, and it probably will increase momentum for passing similar legislation in at least a half-dozen states from Hawaii to Massachusetts.

As Janelle Nanos’s article pointed out, at present companies selling packaged products have no incentive to design packaging that can be recycled or to use recycled content in production, since they are not financially responsible for these materials once their product is shipped. This law will prompt companies to rethink how they package their product and will relieve municipalities of the increasing financial burden they incur for recycling and waste disposal.

One bill pending in Massachusetts would, among other things, direct packaging producers to establish a producer responsibility organization with the mandate of collecting payments from producers and reimbursing municipalities for certain recycling and waste materials. There are also bills pending targeting paint, mattresses, and electronics.

With the cost of recycling skyrocketing, due in part to shifting international trade policies and producers creating more complex packaging that is more difficult to recycle, Massachusetts must step up and pass its own related EPR bills, for the financial benefit of our municipalities and for the well-being of our environment.

This letter was published Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

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