Knocking on doors to support producer responsibility in Maryland

Since January 1, we have been building support for HB284/SB222 to improve recycling programs in Maryland, reduce waste, and save taxpayer money.

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Since January 1, we have been building support for HB284/SB222 to improve recycling programs in Maryland, reduce waste, and save taxpayer money.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Malcolm Augustine and Delegate Sara Love. 

Environment Maryland has been knocking on doors to talk to Marylanders about plastic waste, having nearly 5,000 conversations and collecting letters of support. I wanted to share some of their experiences.


Photo by Staff | TPIN

Photo by staff | TPIN


Photo by staff | TPIN

Photo by staff | TPIN

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Maryland’s Plastic Problem

It is no secret that we have a waste problem in this state and country – in fact, the U.S. throws out enough plastic approximately every 11 hours to fill the Ravens stadium, and that amount is increasing

Municipalities across the state and country are struggling to support recycling programs while facing an ever increasing stream of hard to recycle waste from the products we buy. Our recycling rates are low, people have lost faith in the recycling system, and recycling markets for our plastic waste are less and less reliable, all because producers continue to make wasteful, often non-recyclable products with no responsibility for management. This bill can help address these problems by requiring that producers support infrastructure to manage packaging waste, while incentivising them to make more recyclable products. 

We’ve knocked on doors in the rain and in the cold, and talked to all sorts of Marylanders. But one thing remains the same: everyone is concerned about plastic pollution.

Consumers are frustrated by the lack of sustainable options on the shelf, and the ease in which they should be able to recycle. At the same time, companies that produce wasteful single-use plastic products, beverage containers, and other waste that litters our communities, fills our landfills, and is burned in our incinerators have avoided paying to manage this waste for decades. A big reason why packaging pollution is on the rise is because producers are absolved of all responsibility for where their products end up, and whether their products are labeled correctly. That leaves you and me with confusion and limited choices, meanwhile footing the bill for managing the waste. This law begins to change that by requiring producers to bear some of the costs of our recycling system.


Producer Responsibility

Our report “Break the Waste Cycle” details how producer responsibility has proven to be an effective approach to reducing waste and improving recycling. Such laws already exist in jurisdictions around the world, and they are working well to manage packaging and provide safe disposal for polluting and hazardous items. From Maine to Oregon, states are beginning to take action, and Maryland should join them. 

To be clear: recycling can’t solve our waste problem by itself.

That’s why we support a producer responsibility laws that encourages not only more recyclable packaging, but less packaging, period. We must also aggressively enact measures to reduce waste and move away from packaging that causes harm to the planet and public health in its production and disposal. Maryland has already been a leader on that front by passing the nation’s first ban on foam food packaging; but there is certainly more we can do.

We all know the saying, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but too often we forget: It’s reduce first, then reuse, and when all else fails: recycle. 

The plastic producers who are responsible for the pollution that threatens our environment should be held financially responsible for the waste they create. Producer responsibility legislation can make it happen.

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