Maine Lawmakers Considering Plastic Bag Controls

Mar 23, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine - Lawmakers are considering several bills that would discourage consumers from using plastic bags provided by retailers.  Among the ideas is charging a fee for the bags.

Rep. Mick Devin, a Newcastle Democrat, is sponsoring one of the bills, which would impose a five-cent fee per plastic bag.

"There is a growing consensus that these bags are harming the environment, and also pose a long term threat to human health and the health of marine life as well, which we know is important to the economy," Devin says.

The legislation drew strong support from several groups, including a number of high school students. But it was opposed by the LePage administration and some business groups, such as the Maine Grocers Association. They want recycling of the plastic bags, not fees on their use.

"The five-cent fee may not sound like much, but over the cost of shopping at all Maine retailers, it would add up significantly," says Shelly Doak, executive director of the Maine Grocers Association. "And this is a regressive tax - taking money out of the pockets of Maine consumers by increasing their grocery bills is bad public policy."