Proposed bill receives legislative hearing Wednesday, April 24
News release by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Retail Association of Maine, and the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association
April 23, 2019 (Augusta, ME) – A bill that would address the growing plastic pollution problem by banning the use of single-use plastic shopping bags statewide and promoting reusable bags will receive a public hearing before the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m.
LD 1532 is a collaborative bill developed and supported by conservationists, grocers, and retailers, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), the Retail Association of Maine (RAM), and the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association (MGFPA) who have worked together to draft legislation that will provide a consistent statewide approach for reducing pollution caused by single-use plastic bags.
Recognizing that bags are necessary for retail shopping experiences, the bill’s language is designed to be practical by ensuring stores can continue to serve their customers without disruptions to their experience or satisfaction while responding to a growing awareness around the world that steps need to be taken to reduce the use of single-use plastics. The bill also will help encourage consumers to bring their own reusable shopping bags.
“More than 20 Maine communities have some sort of bag ordinance, but there is quite a bit of inconsistency from community to community. It’s been a real challenge for retailers that operate in more than one community. Additionally, consumer behavior is adapting to these bag ordinances so it was time to elevate it statewide,” stated Curtis Picard, President and CEO of RAM.
“We appreciate working together with NRCM to craft a concerted approach to reduce single-use plastic bags in an effort to remove them as a pollutant in our state. With much feedback from our partners and members we’re pleased to have collaborated on a statewide effort that offers consistency and feasibility,” noted Christine Cummings, Executive Director of MGFPA.
Globally, about one million plastic shopping bags are distributed per minute. Single-use plastic bags are increasingly a costly issue for Maine’s towns because they cannot be easily recycled, and when they are placed in recycling the plastic often jams recycling equipment and contaminate the recycling stream, which could cause recycling loads to be rejected. Plastic bag pollution also poses a serious threat to birds, turtles, whales, and other animals who mistake them for food or get entangled causing slow deaths.
“Plastic pollution is a persistent global threat that endangers wildlife and threatens Maine’s tourism and fishing industries,” said Sarah Lakeman, NRCM Sustainable Maine Director. “A statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in Maine is just one common-sense way to address plastic pollution that respects the environment we all love.”
LD 1532 would address plastic pollution and help Maine’s towns save money by:
• Prohibiting the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags at the point of sale at retail establishments in Maine.
• Placing a minimum five-cent fee on paper bags available at the point of sale at retail locations, to provide an incentive for shoppers to use reusable bags.
• Requiring paper bags be made of recycled content and ensure that they are recyclable.
Twenty-two Maine cities and towns—home to more than 20% of the state’s population—have passed ordinances to limit single-use plastic shopping bags. If the Legislature passes LD 1532, then Maine would be the third state to enact a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags after California and New York (Hawaii bans plastic shopping bags statewide through a combination of county-wide laws).