Plastic grocery bags could soon be a thing of the past in Portland, Maine.
The City Council has formed a workgroup tasked with drafting an ordinance to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags. The group is comprised of people representing Environment Maine, the Maine Restaurant Association, the Maine Audubon Society, and the Maine Grocers Association—as well as local business owners and residents. The group is considering both bag bans and fees.
Last year, a neighboring Town Council adopted a resolution asking the Legislature to pass a statewide ban on plastic bags with less than 40 percent recycled material. The resolution brought opposition from Helix Poly, a major manufacturer of plastic bags that was represented by Portland law firm Verrill Dana.
Ultimately, the resolution was tabled, but the debate led to voluntary reduction efforts by grocery store chains. Hannaford Supermarkets spokesman Michael Norton said the company has been working to get its customers to switch from disposable plastic bags to reusable cloth bags.
A preservation associate with Environment Maine, who is serving on the working group, said, “Maine’s fisheries are important. Nothing we use for five minutes should be polluting our environment for a lifetime.”