Portland, Maine, June 16, 2014 (PBBR) - The City Council of Portland today voted to adopt an ordinance that places a five cents fee on single-use carryout bags. The fee will be collected on both paper and plastic disposable bags.
Portland has become the first city in the state of Maine to regulate plastic bags.
The City also adopted a ban on polystyrene foam food containers. Both ordinances will become effective on April 15, 2015. The ordinances were both passed by a vote of 6-3 with Councilors Mavodones, Coyne and Leeman dissenting.
The single-use carryout bag ordinance will be imposed at food stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. An earlier version of the ordinance had included restaurants and dry cleaners. The adopted ordinance includes neither.
The ordinance widely promotes the use of reusable bags. The City Council believes that prohibiting the free distribution of single-use carryout bags will incentivize the use of reusable bags. Stores will keep the full five cents collected for each bag sold.
All affected businesses must post signage that clearly indicates the per-bag charge. Stores must separately itemize the carryout bag sales on the customer's sale receipt. Stores must also keep complete and accurate records of the purchase and sale of carryout bags for a minimum of three years.
The Maine Grocers Association strongly opposed both ordinances. "It's a one two punch!" stated the organization on their website. "This is a regressive tax impacting consumers already struggling to keep up with rising food, utility and home heating costs; taking money out of the pockets of Portland’s consumers by increasing their grocery bills is bad policy."
The city of Portland is located on the Gulf of Maine on a peninsula in Casco Bay. The city has a thriving cruise industry with 74 cruise ship visits scheduled between June and November. Some 82,000 visitors will stop in Portland via cruise ships this year. The City will need to make these visitors aware of the new ordinance. Visitors will need to bring their own reusable bag or they will be charged a nickel for any carryout bag purchased.
The List of Bans has been updated to include Portland's five cents fee on paper or plastic bags.
Cover photo: Busy Harbor. Cruise ships docked in Portland Harbor. Author: Bd2media at wikipedia.org. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)