The measure, which takes effect March 1, prohibits stores from using single-use plastic bags, though paper bags are still allowed.
By Gillian Graham, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
The “Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bag Ordinance” was designed to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags by retail and grocery stores in town. It passed by a vote of 1,649-1,151.
Two cities in southern Maine have adopted fees for plastic bags, while several others are considering similar proposals. Portland’s 5-cent plastic bag fee went into effect in April and South Portland has a similar fee set to take effect in March. At least five other communities – including Brunswick, Falmouth, Freeport and Topsham – are considering bag fees or bans.
The York measure was backed by the group Bring Your Own Bag York and had the unanimous backing of the Board of Selectmen.
Victoria Simon, chairwoman of Bring Your Own Bag York, said Tuesday’s vote was the culmination of nearly three years of work on the issue. She said no one spoke against the ban during two public hearings and there was no organized opposition to the ballot measure.
“I’m hoping to inspire all the towns and cities that are interested in doing this to move forward with whatever ordinance that will work for them,” Simon said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a ban. So far, we’ve seen both bans and fees achieve the result of reducing single-use plastic bags.”
The ban targets the single-use plastic bags typically used by grocery and convenience stores. Single-use plastic bags used for dry cleaning, newspapers, produce, meat, lobsters, fish, bulk foods and wet items will still be allowed. The initial proposal would have instituted a fee for paper bags, but that was dropped because of opposition from selectmen and business owners.
Businesses that do not comply with the ban face a $50 fine for a first offense and $100 for the second and subsequent offenses.
“People who have started to make the change (to reusable bags) say it’s really not that hard,” Simon said. “It’s just about developing a new habit.”