Maine lawmakers consider bill that would ban sale of plastic water bottles

The bill would ban plastic bottles that are 1 liter or less
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A public hearing was held Monday on a bill that would ban the sale of plastic water bottles in Maine.

The bill would ban plastic bottles that are 1 liter or less.

Rep. Lori Gramlich, of Old Orchard Beach, sponsored the bill.

“We know there is a lot of plastic waste in our ocean, and this is a step in the direction to begin to hopefully decrease some of that,” Gramlich said.

She sees it as an issue to improve the environment and public health.

“I do feel it’s very important that we make sure that all Mainers have access to clean water and that we can get it directly from our taps,” Gramlich said.

During the public hearing before the Legislature’s Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, opponents from the food and beverage industry, grocery stores, truckers and bottled water producers, such as Maine’s Poland Spring, testified against the proposed ban, citing the negative financial impact on their businesses and employees.

“It’s the single most redeemed item in the state,” Rolando’s Redemption Center owner Don Cook said.

Cook said the small water bottles that would be banned account for a third of his volume.

“Nobody can take a 30% hit in industry and survive,” Cook said. “I have employed disabled, challenged people, recovering addicts, people just out of prison. They’re good people, they work, and they will lose jobs. The entire industry will close if this bill is passed right away.”

Plastic bottles that contain flavored or carbonated drinks would be exempt from the ban.

The bill would also create an exception during public health or safety emergencies in which the governor has declared an emergency proclamation.

Another pending bill in Augusta would impose a statewide ban on the use of plastic straws, though other propose bills would reverse a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags that has yet to take effect.

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