Reusable Bag Ordinance
South Portland recently passed ORDINANCE #3-15/16, which adds a fee on single use carry out bags.
On March 1, 2016 local retailers will begin charging customers $0.05 for each plastic or paper shopping bag they use to package purchased goods. This ordinance, which mirrors Portland's, is aimed at reducing waste by providing consumers with a financial incentive to bring their own reusable bags when they go shopping. Cities and states across the country have adopted similar laws with an eye toward conserving natural resources, reducing litter, and promoting environmental stewardship.
Most bags handed to shoppers by retailers are used once or twice and then discarded. This represents a waste of resources and reinforces “throw away” habits rather than conservation. Bags made of durable materials can take the place of dozens if not hundreds of disposable bags over the course of their lifespan. Plastic bags are very problematic sources of litter. They hang from trees, block storm drains and are hazardous to wildlife on land and in our waterways. If plastic bags reach the recycling plant they often get tangled in the machinery, creating a maintenance problem. Although they are easily recyclable, paper bags are also problematic. Their manufacturing process consumes large quantities of natural resources. They are also quite bulky so transporting them from factories to stores requires more trucks than lighter weight plastic bags. The best option is to use a sturdy bag over and over as a way to avoid these problems.