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Maryland EPR Bill Would Allow Companies to Set Fees

Stacks of binders of regulations

Maryland’s General Assembly is considering legislation that would establish an extended producer responsibility (EPR) program. The legislation, SB292 and HB0307, would require the Maryland Department of Environment (DoE) to conduct a statewide assessment by October 1, 2023, and every 10 years after that. The assessments would evaluate how much funding is needed to upgrade local recycling systems and reduce waste. 

The legislation also would require producers of certain packaging materials—either individually or as part of a producer responsibility organization—to submit a Producer Responsibility Plan to DoE for approval by April 1, 2024. A “producer responsibility organization” is defined as a nonprofit organization that is created by a group of producers to implement a producer responsibility plan. The producer responsibility organization would be exempt from taxation. 

The packaging materials covered by the legislation would include:

  1. Primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging intended for the consumer market;
  2. Service packaging designed and intended to be filled at the point of sale; and
  3. Beverage containers.

The legislation specifies that a Producer Responsibility Plan must identify the producers and each brand of packaging materials covered by the plan. In addition, the plan would need to include the following performance goals for each packaging material type:

  • Postconsumer recycled content goals
  • Recyclability and recycling rate goals
  • Reuse goals
  • Packaging reduction goals
  • Compost access or compost rate goals (if applicable and feasible)
  • Contamination reduction rate goals
  • Greenhouse gas reduction goals 
  • Any other goal that demonstrates positive environmental improvement

Furthermore, each participating producer would be required to reduce all packaging material waste to the maximum extent practicable, and by not less than 25% for each packaging material type, within 5 years of when the first version of a Plan is approved.

Both Maine and Oregon have approved EPR programs for packaging but, unlike the proposed EPR program in Maryland, fees are set by the state for those programs. (See the article, EPR Programs Expand in Canada and the U.S., for more information on those programs.)