Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill banning single-use plastic grocery bags yesterday, less than two months after signing a first-in-the-nation bill banning plastic foam containers. The bill, which goes into effect next year, requires large retailers and grocers to replace single-use plastic bags with either reusable or paper bags, and it also institutes a 5-cent fee on all shopping bags.
Also yesterday, Gov. Phil Scott signed the most comprehensive set of statewide plastic restrictions to date, placing a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags and foam containers, and requiring that plastic straws only be given on request. The bill also places a ten cent fee of paper bags.
Maine and Vermont now become the third and fourth states to officially restrict single-use plastic grocery bags, one of the most common forms of pollution. Out of the billions of plastic bags used each year in America for an average of only 12 minutes a piece, only 1 percent are recycled and most end up in landfills or as litter in the environment. Plastic bags take at least 500 years or more to degrade, and are ingested by wildlife and humans alike.
U.S. PIRG’s Zero Waste director Alex Truelove issued the following statement:
“Maine and Vermont are leading the country when it comes to addressing plastic pollution. With that said, other states are in the final phases of passing similar statewide legislation, and we urge them to join the frontrunners. Collectively, this arms race against plastic pollution will make our planet safer and healthier.
“Nothing we use for 12 minutes should be allowed to pollute our planet for hundreds of years. I applaud the work of Environment Maine, our members, Vermont PIRG and our elected officials for helping push this over the finish line. This is something to be proud of.”