Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill to tackle packaging pollution and shift the responsibility for waste disposal onto packaging producers. The bill, known as HB 284, would require producers to have an approved producer responsibility plan, and non-compliance could result in fines. The bill would also mandate a recycling needs assessment every decade, with fines for less sustainable producers producing more packaging materials. Producers of eco-friendly packaging would pay less.

According to Del. Sara Love, D-Montgomery, who sponsored the bill, “the producer responsibility program puts the onus on the producers and incentivizes them to make more sustainable choices.” She added that the money collected from producers would go to fund local governments.

The American Institute for Packaging and Environment (AMERIPEN) supported the bill, with Executive Director Dan Felton saying that the program could “address some of those issues.” Of the 52 witnesses who testified in front of the Environment and Transportation Committee on Feb. 22, 43 supported the bill.

Packaging constitutes 28% of Maryland’s waste stream, of which 40% is plastic, according to Laurie McGilvray, an advocate with the Climate Justice Wing, a statewide coalition focused on climate justice. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported that containers and packaging make up a significant portion of municipal solid waste, with 82.2 million tons nationally for 2018.

Maine, Oregon, California and Colorado have already passed regulations on packaging materials. The bill is cross-filed in the Senate as SB 222, and is sponsored by Sen. Malcolm Augustine, D-Prince George’s.

Marylanders are realizing that waste in ecosystems is getting worse, and taxpayers currently bear the sole burden of paying to manage and dispose of waste, including packaging, said Comptroller Brooke Lierman, who also sponsors the bill.

Maryland PIRG, a small donor-funded public interest advocacy organization, supported the bill and called for aggressive measures to reduce waste and move away from packaging that causes harm to the planet and public health.

The bill is awaiting a vote from the committee.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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