Rep. Vicki Doudera of Camden introduced legislation on April 26 aimed at increasing post-consumer recycled plastic content in beverage containers. In a news release, Doudera said the measure addresses the burgeoning amount of plastic in our environment and helps promote a more circular recycling economy for Maine.

“We are in the midst of a plastic bottle explosion,” Rep. Doudera said in her testimony to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, “and this alone is an environmental crisis. The same properties that make plastics so versatile in so many ways make these materials difficult or impossible for our environment to absorb. Back in 2004, beverage companies produced 239 billion plastic bottles. That total had more than doubled by 2017 to 494 billion, and the trend continues, with plastic bottle production predicted to hit 594 billion by 2022. That means bottlers will be churning out more than 1.6 billion plastic bottles every day.”

LD 479, “An Act To Promote a Circular Economy through Increased Postconsumer Recycled Plastic Content in Plastic Beverage Containers,” creates a minimum post-consumer recycled content requirement (PCR) for all plastic beverage containers sold in Maine beginning with 25% PCR by 2026 and increasing to 30% by 2031. By focusing on the same plastic beverage containers currently covered in Maine’s bottle bill, Doudera said the legislation will benefit municipalities, waste haulers, sorting facilities, recycling processors and beverage manufacturers, many of which are already moving toward post-consumer recycled content goals.

Doudera said that without well-crafted management strategies for end-of-life plastics, our planet stands to accumulate billions of metric tons of material across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. “While most bottles and other plastic items are made of recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (or PET), the problem is that very little of the material has been returned for reprocessing or reuse.”

“Using recycled PET plastic to make new containers, instead of using new virgin PET plastic, not only reduces the volume of plastics in our oceans, woods, beaches and backyards, but can cut carbon pollution by as much as 67%,” Rep. Doudera said. “It is a commonsense approach to the plastics problem and I look forward to having the bill progress.”

Rep. Doudera represents District 94, the towns of Camden, Islesboro, and Rockport.