Maine

Single-Use Bag Ban in Freeport, Maine!

Victory | June 14 2016

Plastic Pollution

The Surfrider Foundation Maine Chapter supported a single-use bag ban in Freeport.

A hearing was held with the Freeport Ordinance Committee on September 22, 2015 to consider the Recycling and Solid Waste Committee's recommendation to ban plastic bags (read the report here: http://www.freeportmaine.com/page.php?page_id=308).

Freeport Councilor Bill Rixon was present at the hearing and stated, "Ed Suslovic from the Portland City Council answered questions from the committee for an hour.  My one comment at the meeting's end was that what I had just experienced was the finest example of good governance that I had ever witnessed."

The Ordinance Committee met again on October 13 to hear public comment; the Committee's recommendation to the town council is to have Freeport residents vote on a fee referendum question that uses Portland's ordinance as a base. This would have meant a fee and not a ban.

The Council then met on October 20, 2015 to discuss the Committee's recommendation.

Due to the long delay in mitigating plastic marine debris that a referendum would incur, we opposed that recommendation and instead supported moving the ordinance forward within the Council.

The Council declined to move the ordinance to referendum, and instead requested that the Surfrider Foundation submit a draft ordinance for their consideration. Under consideration at the time were a ban on plastic bags with a fee on paper, with a 10-cent fee on all single-use bags and a mandatory, minimum fee assessed for all reusable bags sold to help close a loophole some stores are exploiting that allows them to thwart the intents of the law by distributing thicker plastic bags for free that are then being used in a single-use manner.

However, when the council began discussing a non-binding resolution rather than an ordinance, a local citizens initiative cropped up with an effort to qualify the issue for addition to the June ballot, where voting residents also weighed in on the school budget. The petitioners collected more than the 646 signatures needed to qualify their binding referendum seeking to ban single-use plastic bags and impose a 5-cent fee on paper bags.

A public hearing was held on May 17, and the ordinance appeared on the June 14 ballot for Freeport residents to decide the matter via a binding vote.

Freeport residents spoke up in favor of the environment, passing the referendum by a wide margin of 804-501. The ordinance goes into effect on September 12, 2016, and will prohibit grocery and convenience stores (with an exemption for retail outlets) from distributing single-use plastic bags and place a 5-cent fee on paper bags.

THANKS TO ALL WHO HELPED!

Our role in this campaign was in offering the expertise of our Northeast Regional Manager, who advised council members and some citizens who took part in the effort on the ground in Freeport.

Learn more about the detriments of single-use bags on Surfrider Foundation's Beachapedia site:

-->http://www.beachapedia.org/Single_Use_Plastics

-->http://www.beachapedia.org/Rise_Above_Plastics

-->http://www.beachapedia.org/Rise_Above_Plastics_Facts_and_Figures

THANK YOU!

PLEASE become a supporting Surfrider Foundation member to help us continue our important work in Maine and around the US, protecting the ocean, waves and beaches we all love.

Plastic Pollution

Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.

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