2017-04-04 / Front Page

Saco bans single-use plastic bags

Staff Writer

SACO —  Soon grocery shoppers in Saco will be toting their groceries in reusable or biodegradable shopping bags.

The Saco City Council voted unanimously to ban single-use plastic grocery bags on Monday.

Under a new ordinance, retail establishments that provide bags to customers would have to use non-petroleum bags that meet certain standards of biodegradability. Customers can bring their own bags to use, if desired.

Retailers who choose not to provide bags must post signs near store entrances and cash registers.

Councilor Alan Minthorn said there are organic resin-based shopping bags available to retailers at the same cost as single-use plastic bags. He said these plastic alternative bags if put in a land fill, or exposed to sunlight will, in nine months, “deteriorate to dust.”

“There’s no cost factor, there’s no pollution factor,” he said.

Produce bags, newspaper bags and floral wrap are exempt from the ordinance.

He said down the road, when resin bags are available for the exempt categories, the ordinance will be revised to include other categories.

The ordinance banning single-use plastic bags goes into effect 30 days after it was voted on, but the city administrator can delay the enforcement up to six months to allow businesses time to use up their bag inventory and acquire the newly acceptable bags.

Stores in violation of the ordinance can be fined up to $250 for the first violation in a one-year period, and up to $500 for any additional violation in the one-year period.

City officials have brought forth this ban because of the adverse effects plastic bags have on the environment.

The new ordinance reads that production and disposal of petroleum-based products can injure or poison animals, disrupt habitats, and leach into ground water.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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