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Lawmakers consider banning single-use plastic bags in Maine by 2020

The public can weigh in on a bill that would ban all single-use plastic bags in Maine by 2020.

AUGUSTA, Maine — You might need to invest in some reusable shopping bags if you don't already have them. Some Maine lawmakers want to get rid of all single-use plastic bags in the state by 2020. 

A bill that would eliminate single-use plastic carry-out bags starting in 2020 and would prohibit all Maine retailers from using them at checkouts was discussed in a press conference at the State House in Augusta Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. A public hearing followed at 10 a.m. in front of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

RELATED: Biddeford bans plastic bags, joins growing list of Maine locations

The bill would allow some exemptions for paper bags and certain types of plastic bags. The House Democratic Office says the lawmakers who drafted the bill worked closely with environmental and retail groups to write the law so it works for all involved. 

Credit: NCM

The city of Biddeford is the latest municipality in Maine to join a growing list of towns and cities that have already banned single-use plastic bags (List courtesy of Press Herald). 

  • Bar Harbor
  • Bath
  • Belfast
  • Blue Hill
  • Brunswick
  • Camden
  • Damariscotta
  • Freeport
  • Kennebunk
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Saco
  • Southwest Harbor
  • Rockland
  • York

Municipalities with fees for plastic bags:

 Cape Elizabeth
 South Portland

Rep. Holly Stover (D-Boothbay) is sponsoring the bill LD 1532 but crafted it with the help of Rep. David McCrea (D-Fort Fairfield) and Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth) who had both proposed similar legislation.

"A lot of people in our community make their living off clamming, worming, fishing, and lobstering, and the amount of plastic in the water has a direct impact on that workforce," said Rep. Stover.

"Moving to alternative products that are not better for the environment have significant costs not just environmental but actually monetarily as well," said Matt Seaholm, the Executive Director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance and an opponent of the bill. "I mean the reason that plastic bags are used by most businesses and consumers is because they're not just the cheapest they are the best option at the checkout counter."

The Retail Association of Maine and the Maine Grocers say they support the bill along with the owner of Renys chain of stores John Reny. Renys has been using paper bags in lieu of plastic since 2017 according to Reny. 

Reny says even though it cost more to use paper, "we made the decision because we want to do our part of keeping Maine the way it is, a pristine and beautiful place, which is the reason why we live here and the reason people visit this state."

According to ecomaine, plastic bags were contaminating our recycling. They can be recycled, but at designated bag return locations. That contamination was one of the factors that led to a market collapse in China, which no longer takes our recycling.

RELATED: Added recycling costs and what that means for you

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