Starting Wednesday, April 15th, Portland became Maine’s first city to place a five-cent fee on disposable paper or plastic shopping bags, and the second city to ban disposable styrofoam food containers (Freeport was first, in 1989).
“It’s taken a while to get it to this point,” said West End Councilor Dave Marshall, who helped to steer the policy through the Council.
The bag and foam ban was first discussed by City Councilors as far back as 2011. In June 2014 City Council passed the bag and foam ordinances that have now gone into effect.
“Businesses are stepping up and adapting, and finding good solutions,” Councilor Marshall continued.
The goal of these measurers is to reduce plastic and foam debris that clogs storm drains and recycling machines, sickens and kills wildlife, and litters waters and roadsides.
The bag fee is a mandatory fee of five cents for every disposable bag, paper or plastic, a consumer uses. Businesses charge and collect the fee.
The styrofoam ordinance bans most styrofoam products, but there are exceptions such as for shipping live seafood, particularly lobsters.
“Styrofoam simply is not economically feasible to recycle. Other materials tend to be. Paper products are preferred because you can make them out of post-recycled material and recycle them again,” said Councilor Marshall.
Other Maine communities where environmental groups are pushing for disposable bag ordinances include York, Falmouth, Freeport, Brunswick, Topsham, and South Portland.