Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, my name is Sarah Nichols, and I am the Sustainable Maine Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). I appreciate this opportunity to express our support for LD 602 as part of Maine’s plastic pollution reduction efforts.
Throughout its lifecycle—from manufacturing to use to waste management—plastic is causing harm to our health and environment. Negative health impacts are disproportionately felt by the communities adjacent to plastic production and waste facilities, and new research indicates that humans ingest the equivalent of one credit card’s worth of plastic every single week in the form of microplastic contaminants in our food and beverages. The plastic life cycle is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, the greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach more than 56 gigatons—which is 10-13 percent of the entire remaining carbon budget if we are going to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
It feels difficult to avoid plastic in our everyday lives because it is so ubiquitous—in our clothes, carpets, cars, appliances, toys, and other durable goods. However, there are countless reusable and non-plastic alternatives that can be used in place of disposable, single-use plastic products such as plastic straws and other plastic beverage accessories. If these disposable plastic items were phased out, as proposed by the bill, then Maine people and businesses would easily adjust and adapt to using substitutes that pose less environmental risk.
The 129th Legislature voted to ban the use of single-use plastic shopping bags and plastic foam food containers. We believe that this proposal to ban the use of plastic straws, splash sticks, and beverage lid plugs builds on that legislative action. Maine should continue to take action to eliminate unnecessary uses of disposable plastic items, as proposed by LD 602.
Because plastic beverage accessories join plastic shopping bags and foam food containers in the “low-hanging fruit club,” it is very likely that Maine’s communities will begin to ban these items piecemeal around the state. NRCM believes that the Legislature has an opportunity to lead and pass a uniform statewide policy for beverage accessories with LD 602.
Please join NRCM in supporting this common-sense initiative to limit our reliance on single-use plastic beverage accessories and vote ought-to-pass on LD 602.