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The Last Straw for Maine

The Last Straw for Maine

The Chapter is working with our Northeast Regional Manager to support a statewide bill to promote straw-free drinking and reusable straw use in Maine.

UPDATE JUNE 15, 2021

In an extreme case of waffling after the vote to advance LD602 favorably out of Committee, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) moved the straw bill to a revote on May 17, 2021 (listen to the dialogue here @5:27:36 to listen).

We were very proud of ENR Committee members, Representatives Lydia Blume and Lori Gramlich, for their ardent protesting of this revote and attempts to at the very least, get our bill relegated to an “ask-first” policy with no preemption - a law that would have had very little impact on food service establishments, would have decreased straw consumption and pollution, and would have enabled us to still pass local laws to ban plastic straws. 

But rather than helping Maine continue its strong leadership on single-use plastic mitigation, which is needed to advance environmental justice and climate action, as well as protect our environment, the Committee followed the lead of Senate Chair Brenner and the revote rendered the bill out of Committee with a recommendation that it should not pass.

Then on June 3, Senator Brenner led the charge on the Senate floor to kill LD602. Eleven State Senators understood what was going on here and that LD602 was a commonsense bill that Maine should pass; these 11 Senators voted NOT to accept the recommendation to kill the bill. We urge you to send an email of THANKS to those 11 Senators for their commitment to protecting Maine's environment from needless plastic pollution! Check the roll call, here.

House ENR Chair Ralph Tucker led the charge to kill the bill on the House Floor, and on June 7, the House voted along with the Committee recommendation.

This means our hard work over the last few years leading up to this bill must start anew in the next regular session of the Maine State Legislature.

We encourage you to write to Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker, and your Maine State Representative and Senator to voice your displeasure with the handling of this bill. Find contact information here or email FMI


While we would much prefer to have had this commonsense bill pass into law this session so we could move on to other environmental issues sorely needing our attention in Maine, we will, unfortunately, need to continue to work at the local level until the time is ripe again for another state bill.

Please email to engage with us on keeping the momentum going at the local level to ban straws in more towns across the State while we work back up to another attempt at state legislation, hopefully with new Committee leadership that we can depend upon to move good environmental policy forward! 


*UPDATE: APRIL 7, 2021*

The second work session for this bill was held on April 7, 2021.

Unfortunately, an industry lobbyist representing hospitality interests in Maine who had joined our March 26 mediation and agreed to the compromises, operated in bad faith during this work session, backtracking on our agreements and suggesting that his amendments were “summarily dismissed” rather than acknowledging, as he did at the conclusion of our mediation, that he understood that we all compromised to arrive at the amended draft.

One compromise we agreed to in mediation was to delay the implementation of the law from 3 months after passage until 1/1/22, and, to institute a phased approach whereby year 1 would be an ask-first policy for any straw, with the ban on plastic and bioplastic straws kicking in in year 2, on 1/1/23. 

Because of the backhanded lobbying by the industry representative in work session, however, the Committee considered and then voted favorably on yet another delay in the implementation of this law, so that the bill advancing would not have straws be regulated, at all, until 1/1/23, whereupon an ask-first policy for any straw will be in place, with phase 2 with the ban on plastic not kicking in until 1/1/24. 

Had Surfrider been called upon in the work session to help flesh out what transpired in deliberation to clarify that the 1/1/22 implementation date was in fact already a compromise that all parties agreed to, we would perhaps have wound up with a bill advancing in Maine that would protect our environment from needless pollution more immediately—one that the state of Vermont and the city of Portland implemented during a pandemic—to require customers to ask for a straw before being wastefully given one…rather than needing to wait a year and a half for an ask-first policy, and 2.5 years for a ban.

While this delay is not one we support, we are satisfied that the other agreements we made in good faith were retained, landing us with a bill advancing with majority support out of Committee, with only 2 Committee members voting against (and 1 member not present for the vote), to eventually ban single-use plastic and bioplastic straws in the state, should it pass.

The bill will now be processed out of Committee and send to the floor of each chamber for votes by the full legislature.


NOW is the time to write to your Maine State House and Senate electeds to ask for their support of LD602, the straw bill, when it comes to the floor for a vote!

Please check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for shareable posts to help drum up support, and give a shout with any questions!

Find contact information for your state electeds here.


On March 26, 2021, our Northeast Regional Manager mediated a negotiation with our bill sponsor and industry lobbyists to hammer out a compromise. 

Proposed amendments:

-Per DEP's testimony: definition added to clarify the meaning of “non-plastic beverageware”

-Sponsor + Surfrider compromise: removal of the fee for non-plastic straws to accommodate industry concerns

-Sponsor + Surfrider compromise: removal of the ban on retail sales to accommodate industry and DEP concerns

-Sponsor + Surfrider compromise: added a phased-approach for implementation, with the ban not kicking in until 2023 to accommodate industry concerns.

·         Year 1 beginning 1/1/22: ask-first for any single-use beverageware; 

·         Year 2 beginning 1/1/23: ban on s/u plastic and bioplastic beverageware and ask-first for non-plastic beverageware

-Sponsor + Surfrider conditional compromise: added a conditional, limited scope preemption clause that would take effect with phase 2, on 1/1/23 (so as not to require Portland to backtrack on their progress)

·         Condition: Surfrider agrees to support this only insofar as the ban on s/u plastic and bioplastic beverageware remains intact and no other substantive amendments are made to LD602.

-Industry compromise: agree to the ban on plastic and bioplastic straws in phase 2

-Industry compromise: agree to maintain the ban on self-service straw stations

-Industry compromise: agree to limited scope preemption not taking effect until phase 2

We collaboratively presented this amended bill to the Committee's analyst, who prepared and submitted the new draft to the Committee ahead of the April 7 Work Session.

A work session on LD602 was held on March 24, where the Committee asked environmental lobbyists to discuss the bill with industry lobbyists and come back with an amended draft bill for consideration.

We set a meeting to talk through opportunities for amendments and will work closely with sponsor Senator Dave Miramant to develop a redraft that integrates provisions to better accommodate businesses while still protecting the environment from wasteful behavior and the needless, preventable pollution of single-use straws, especially all plastic straws!

Stay tuned here or to the Committee page for information, and give us a shout to learn more about how YOU can help pass this bill into law:

The public hearing for LD602 was at 10AM on Monday, March 15, 2021. Read written testimony submitted in support of LD602 here.

We encouraged YOU to submit testimony in writing or sign up to speak in the remote-access public hearing (through the Zoom app), follow the steps below: 

1. Navigate to the Legislature's Testimony form.

2. In the “Choose a Committee” dropdown menu, select “Environment and Natural Resources.”

3. In the “Choose Date” dropdown menu, select “Mar 15, 2021 10:00AM”.

4. In the new page that loads, you will see all the bills coming to hearing before the ENR Committee on 3/15/21 at 10am. Select the option for LD602 by clicking the circle next to the bill.

5. If you want to participate in the public hearing using Zoom to offer spoken comments on 3/15, check the box next to, “I would like to present my testimony live.” 

6. Select the button next to “I am for the proposed legislation” to support LD602.

7. If you want to submit written testimony, you can either click the button to upload a file from your computer by clicking the “Choose File” button (PDFs are best!) or you can directly type your sentiments into the box under “.. and/or enter testimony below:”.

8. Fill out the rest of the form with your information, and click the box next to “I'm Not a Robot” (if you're not a robot!), and then click the “Submit/Register” button.

All set!!

If you checked the box to present testimony live, you will receive an email at the email address you provided on the form. The email will contain information for you to register for the Zoom meeting. Be sure to follow the instructions and save the Zoom ID and password information for access to the Zoom meeting at 10am on March 15th! 

During the Zoom hearing on March 15, you will be in a waiting room and not visible or able to be heard but able to hear the proceeding and see the ENR Committee members. Chair Brenner or Chair Tucker will call your name when it is time for you to speak (if you do not hear your name called and the hearing is closing, be sure to raise your hand by clicking the button to raise your hand!). Your computer screen will go blank for a moment as staff transition you from listen/view only mode to panelist mode, where you will have the option to enable your video and be seen (highly recommended) and to unmute yourself to speak (required).

If you have any questions about how to format testimony, talking points, Zoom, etc—please do not hesitate to email us! We can set up a meeting to walk through the process to help familiarize you with using Zoom and giving testimony! The key is to speak to how the issue of single-use straw, splash stick and beverage lid plug pollution impacts you and how passing LD602 will help solve the problem.



The Surfrider Foundation Maine Chapter wrote a bill with an emergency preamble to submit in the second regular session of the 129th Maine State Legislature in January 2020 to ban single-use plastic straws, splash sticks, and beverage lid plugs in the state of Maine. Because the second session is reserved for emergency and fiscal bills, however, we weren't able to move the bill through to introduction at that time.

We are pleased to announce that Senator Dave Miramant (SD12), senate chair of the Marine Resources Committee, agreed to sponsor the bill in the 130th Maine State Legislature!

Our bill is LD602; it is assigned to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and awaiting to be scheduled for public hearing.

Our Bill Aims To:

  • Stop plastic pollution from single-use plastic (and bioplastic) straws, splash sticks, and beverage lid plugs by banning them from manufacture, sale, or distribution in the state of Maine
  • Encourage a shift away from single-use products and toward sustainable practices, like reuse or no straw
  • Require customers to request a natural made single-use straw, splash stick, or beverage lid plug if they'd like one
  • Incentivize straw-free drinking and reusable straw use by assessing a fee of 5-cents for each customer-requested natural made single-use straw, splash stick, or beverage lid plug (fee to be retained by the business to recuperate their costs)
  • Prohibit self-service straw stations
  • Accommodate persons living with a disability requiring of a straw for drinking hot or cold liquids by explicitly noting in the law that nothing within the statute shall prohibit any person from bringing with them a straw of their choosing for their own personal use

We will work hard to ensure that any amendments to the bill as may occur in Committee do not:

  • Require food service establishments to carry single-use plastic straws for any purpose
  • Allow self-service straw stations
  • Allow any type of single-use straw to be dispensed automatically without a customer's request

Bill Summary:

  • The intent of this bill is to stop plastic pollution from certain single-use plastic items to best protect human health and the environment and to encourage reusable beverage products over any type of single-use product by assessing a fee for the purchase of non-plastic single-use Straws, Splash Sticks, and Beverage Lid Plugs.

Not sure why straws are so bad? Check this out.

Want to engage with us on this campaign? Awesome, give a shout

Next Steps:

As of January 1, 2021, we are in the process of building a coalition of support to help pass the bill, and we are working to set meetings with disability advocates to discuss policy mechanisms to best ensure we're not unintentionally disadvantaging or burdening people who identify as living with a disability that requires a straw to drink.

We are also keen to learn from disability advocates if there are legislative or policy priorities they are focusing on this year that may intersect with our work to protect the ocean for all people, where we might be able to exercise our allyship by providing a live-streamed online forum for them to present on these environmental justice intersections to engage our supporters and further amplify and support policies that increase accessibility and justice for ALL people.

Historic Account of our Work to Reduce Pollution from Single-Use Straws in Maine

In late 2018, our Northeast Regional Manager and chapter secretary attended a public meeting hosted by the Portland City Council's Transportation and Sustainability Committee to speak to policy mechanisms for mitigating plastic straw use. We provided a packet of information detailing policies around the US and made a recommendation of a ban on plastic straws.

On October 21, 2019, the Council voted to approve the measure! 

The ordinance has a phase-in process, which took effect on April 1, 2020. Phase 1 required all types of single-use straws, stirrers, and splash sticks to be available on request by the customer only. The ban on plastic straws kicked in on January 1, 2021, which was initially set to coincide with the statewide foam food packaging and plastic stirrer ban's effective date. However, on 12/22/20, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection announced that it would delay enforcement of the foam ban until July 1, 2021. 

After 1/1/21 in Portland, only natural made single-use straws, stirrers, and splash sticks will be available on request of the customer, except for those customers expressing an explicit need for a plastic straw to drink hot or cold beverages. In those cases, a plastic straw will be available as a secondary default option made available upon such request and without further question, to accommodate persons living with a disability but not requiring those individuals to need to self-identify as living with a disability.

Straws are one small piece of the larger plastic pollution crisis, and we are stoked to take this step forward in Portland.

The chapter is excited to continue advocating for an end to straw pollution by working on a strong statewide ban on single-use plastic straws, and we would love your help! For more information or to engage in the campaign, give a shout!

Not sure why straws are so bad? Check this out.