Governor Janet Mills signed a controversial bill on Monday that will make Maine the first state in the nation to charge producers of packaging products for recycling or disposing costs and use the money to fund local recycling programs.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Nicole Grohoski, D-Ellsworth, was backed by environmental groups that aim to shift the costs of recycling from local taxpayers to producers. It was heavily opposed by those producers and the business lobby, which argued that the program would raise prices of basic consumer goods, including groceries.
The bill came amid rising recycling costs and a push to increase recycling rates. Its future was uncertain after Mills raised concerns about disposal costs. Her staff was noncommittal after the Maine Department of Environmental Protection signed off on a version of the measure. It did not dissuade the Democratic-led Legislature, which passed the bill by comfortable margins.