Some say it’s time for companies to reduce excess packaging or pay the price

BOSTON — Overflowing recycle bins and trash cans are a common sight in most neighborhoods on trash day.

One of the causes is all the packing material used when online purchases are shipped.

Boston 25 News asked people on the Boston Common about their experiences receiving packages.

One woman said she often wonders “why is this little baby thing is in a huge box?”

A man told us he thought the packaging is often extreme. “I got protein bars from Amazon and there was all this bubble wrap and stuff like that.”

The city of Newton processes anywhere from 3.5-5 tons of clean cardboard weekly, according to Waneta Trabert, Director of Sustainable Materials Management. “We definitely saw a big increase from the pandemic.”

Trabert added, “From an environmental perspective, we are ending up with more material than we have seen in the past and we want that to be the opposite trend.”

Maine and Oregon both recently passed so-called Producer Responsibility laws. “That’s putting the polluter pays principle into effect,” explained Trabert.

State Representative Michael Day, who represents Stoneham and Winchester, said local communities are left to deal with the extra costs of hauling all this new trash away. He has filed a bill to set up a board that would assess the waste generated by product manufacturers.

“It’s going to impose a shifting fee mechanism in there, so if you’re pumping in a lot of non-recyclable materials, you’re going to pay more to this board,” Day explained. “If you’re pumping in more recyclable materials that are easily turned around with less cost to the municipalities, you’re not going to pay as much.”

The funds generated by charging companies for this waste would be sent back to cities and towns to help them cover growing disposal costs they face.

On their website, the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment posted reaction to these news laws, which said in part “We need to ensure that programs work for all stakeholders and are not simply a transfer of funds from one payer to another with little vision for revitalizing the recycling-recovery system of the future. "

Representative Day said, “It’s a carrot to the manufacturers to bring more recyclable materials to use in their packaging in a more environmentally sustainable way. It’s also a stick in that if you’re dumping this stuff into our cities and towns, you’re going to pay more to the board.”

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