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Maine Makes U.S. Recycling Actually Work Again

New York Magazine – Intelligencer: “Since China stopped importing waste products like plastic, textiles, and paper at the beginning of 2018, recycling in the United States has been, in many places, a feel-good exercise for consumers, rather than a functional process to reduce the absurd tonnage of recyclable waste going into landfills each year. But a law signed by Maine governor Janet Mills earlier this month could help reform recycling in the States by shifting the responsibility from consumers to the manufacturer, as the New York Times reports:

Essentially, these programs work by charging producers a fee based on a number of factors, including the tonnage of packaging they put on the market. Those fees are typically paid into a producer responsibility organization, a nonprofit group contracted and audited by the state. It reimburses municipal governments for their recycling operations with the fees collected from producers. Nearly all European Union member states, as well as Japan, South Korea and five Canadian provinces, have laws like these and they have seen their recycling rates soar and their collection programs remain resilient … Ireland’s recycling rate for plastics and paper products, for instance, rose from 19 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2017. Nearly every E.U. country with such programs has a recycling rate between 60 and 80 percent, according to an analysis by the Product Stewardship Institute. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, America’s recycling rate was 32 percent, a decline from a few years earlier…”

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