The fire and ultimately the sinking of Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico has all appearances of becoming an ecological and economic disaster of monumental proportions. How did we get so lulled into complacency about the risks of deep sea drilling? Our memories are so short. I wonder if we will be as surprised by the next nuclear accident?
Producer responsibility is still a relatively radical concept in the United States: generally, we expect consumers to take care of the products they buy at their end of life (which usually means throwing them away). While 19 states have laws on the books assigning responsibility to producers for electronic products, none have passed more comprehensive regulations… until yesterday.
According to the Product Policy Institute, yesterday’s signing of LD 1631 (”An Act to Provide Leadership Regarding the Responsible Recycling of Consumer Products”) by Maine Governor John Balducci represented the first broad-scale effort by a state to assign end-of-life responsibility for products to the companies that made them.
Some will certainly see this as onerous regulation on business, but the combined support of both political and business interests in Maine demonstrates that such laws can provide opportunity for companies to research and develop products that can be easily recycled or reused (perhaps with some refurbishing), and that have longer useful lives.
I’m interested to hear what you think. This probably won’t be the last law we’ll see like this… numerous legislators across the country have introduced similar bills.
Way to go Maine! Think of the positive impact such a law could have if implemented across the country. As a business owner who has been roundly criticized for working to bring such accountability to Vermont, I can imagine the traditional business lobby made life difficult for Maine legislators, so they are to be commended for thinking beyond today.