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October 14, 2015

Brunswick-Topsham group pushing disposable bag fees

Brunswick and Topsham are the latest Maine communities with efforts to require bag fees for disposable bags after Portland became the first in the state to do so six months ago.

The Portland Press Herald reported that a group of Brunswick and Topsham residents launched a campaign Tuesday to get the two towns to implement new ordinances requiring most businesses to collect a 5-cent fee for single-use plastic and paper bags, along with banning polystyrene containers.

Unlike Portland’s ordinance, which mostly applies to grocery and convenience stores, the Brunswick and Topsham proposals would only exempt dry cleaners, restaurants and businesses that reuse disposable plastic bags from collecting the fee, the paper reported.

At least a half-dozen other Maine communities are considering similar fees or bans on single-use plastic bags, the paper reported. Ordinances identical to Portland’s ban on polystyrene containers, known as Styrofoam, and fees on disposable bags will take effect in South Portland next March. The proposals in Portland and South Portland encountered pushback from businesses and some consumers before being approved, the paper reported.

At Hannaford’s Portland supermarket, the percentage of customers who brought their own bags rose from 10% when the fee was implemented in April to more than 80%, a company spokesman told the paper last week. To prepare for the fee, the Portland supermarket gave away around 160,000 reusable bags to customers for free in the weeks before the rule took effect.

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