A law signed by Gov. Janet Mills on July 27 will set up a government panel under the state Department of Environmental Regulation to collect per-package fees from beverage bottlers and other consumer goods marketers. These yet-to-be-determined fees will be distributed to Maine municipalities to allay the cost of landfilling, recycling and other disposal methods. The fees will be structured so that the harder a package is to recycle, the higher the cost. It’s been estimated that Maine pays $6 million a year to dispose of packaging.
The law will not go into effect until the state sets up the packaging disposal panel and it puts together the fee structure, a process that will take up to two years. It exempts companies with sales of less than $2 million a year and those that can prove they generate less than a ton of packaging waste annually.
Similar legislation is under consideration in about a dozen other states. In Oregon, a “polluter pays” measure has passed the legislature and is on the governor’s desk.
An innovative new cardboard box is helping to remove 180,000 polystyrene containers from landfill every year.
Talley’s has worked with packaging company Sealed Air to develop a cardboard box which allows fish to be carried in unrefrigerated vans without the seafood deteriorating.
The move has been praised by the Packaging Forum, as an example of innovative thinking coming to fruition.
The new TempGuard cartons, which are fully recyclable and made from 80 per cent recycled materials, have been rolled out throughout the Talley’s supply chain.
Talley’s account manager Greg Buckett said there were three benefits from the switch to the new packaging.
“Avoiding food waste, reducing the risk of environmental contamination and minimising non-recyclables going to landfill.”
Expanded polystyrene had been the industry go-to for keeping the produce insulated, but it was not recyclable, and would break apart in landfills, contaminating waterways, he said.
“While EPS bins ensured that seafood arrived fresh to supermarkets, they posed environmental and logistical challenges across the distribution network. We needed to find a new way.”
The TempGuard boxes have padded cardboard that provides insulation and cushioning for the fish, while still being suitable for kerbside recycling.
Trials were carried out on the hottest days, because previous products Talley’s had trialled worked on cooler days, but not when the temperature rose, Buckett said.
But the new design worked just as well as polystyrene, even in summer.
“All supermarket store managers were so happy with it, they requested we change to this solution immediately.”
The new cartons also meet the Sealed Air goal of 100 per cent recyclable packaging solutions by 2025.
Packaging Forum chief executive Rob Langford welcomed the innovation.
“We definitely support any organisation that provides innovative solutions to removing problematic material.”
The new TempGuard boxes were an example of a circular product – where a product can be recycled and made back into the same item.
“You can take the product, and you can put it back into the paper stream, and you can make another product ... this is just an example of that coming to fruition as a fully enclosed circular solution.”
The new product has also received industry recognition.
Foodstuffs awarded Talley’s its national sustainability award at the 2021 Foodstuffs Expo, and Sealed Air received the 2020 Gold ANZ PIDA Sustainability Award (Product Protection) and was a finalist for the 2020 New Zealand Sustainable Business Awards.
Create life cycle assessments of your packaging and compare them with alternative designs, even as a non-expert. Get comprehensive and accurate results on the environmental impact of each alternative. Calculate the MCI* of your packaging at the same time, without having to use another tool. Communicate your results through automatically generated reports. *Material Circularity Indicator, developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Granta Design What is the GaBi Packaging Calculator? The GaBi Packaging Calculator is an LCA calculator specially designed for packaging.