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Commentary Energy & Environment

Opinion: Maryland Is Moving Package Recycling Legislation in the Right Direction

Recycling
Photo by Angela Breck.

By Dan Felton

The writer is the executive director of AMERIPEN, the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment.

The Maryland General Assembly is leading an effective, sensible, collaborative approach to packaging producer responsibility legislation to develop an effective circular economy for recycling in the state. Packaging producer responsibility legislation is a policy framework to help design and run modernized materials recovery and processing solutions that will drive results.

Maryland is taking an approach that brings together government, citizens, environmentalists and the packaging industry value chain to advance this policy. The result: packaging producer responsibility legislation sponsored by Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City) and sponsor of HB307 and Sen. Malcolm Augustine (D-Prince George’s) sponsor SB292.

As of this writing, hearings have been held in the House and Senate to consider the legislation. AMERIPEN has testified in support of both bills to create a packaging producer responsibility program in Maryland that includes:

  • Packaging industry producer funding for recycling system infrastructure throughout Maryland;
  • Improved packaging recovery and processing, consumer education, reporting and compliance requirements; and
  • Continued development and value of a circular economy for recycling for Marylanders.

AMERIPEN supports policy solutions, including packaging producer responsibility policies that are:

  • Results based: Designed to achieve the recycling and recovery results needed to create a circular economy.
  • Effective and Efficient: Focused on best practices and solutions that spur positive behaviors, increase packaging recovery, recapture material values and limit administrative costs.
  • Equitable and Fair: Focused on all material types and funded by shared cost allocations that are scaled to make the system work and perceived as fair among all contributors and stakeholders.

Our collective future depends on a circular and sustainable economy that includes packaging to help ensure the quality of consumer goods as they are manufactured, shipped, stored and consumed; thereby protecting the health and safety of Marylanders who consume, use and handle those products.

Packaging has value and none of it belongs in landfills, roadsides or waterways. We need to recover it to be recycled and reused, and AMERIPEN members who design, supply, produce, distribute, collect and process packaging know how to do that.

They are driving innovation, designing for better environmental performance to boost recycling and evolve the recycling infrastructure — and are willing to help fund that.

AMERIPEN is not just another industry group working to influence Maryland’s legislative process. Our executive staff is in Maryland. We have several member companies with a presence in Maryland, and many more who import packaging materials and products into the state. The packaging industry supports more than 15,000 jobs and accounts for nearly $4.8 billion in total economic output in Maryland.

What happens here affects us not only as an industry; but as Marylanders who care about our state’s environment and a genuine desire for — and commitment to — recycling and sustainability here and across the U.S.

AMERIPEN believes HB307/SB292 are clearly moving in the right direction, leading to Maryland being the first state in which AMERIPEN has supported packaging producer responsibility legislation. We look forward to continuing to work with Del. Lierman, Sen. Augustine and other stakeholders to increase packaging recovery and recycling in Maryland in a shared, meaningful and responsible way.