Bill proposed to ban single use plastic bags

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Lawmakers are considering a bill to ban single use plastic bags throughout Maine.

The bill would allow use of 100 percent recycled paper bags and reusable, machine-washable bags.

Paper bags would have a five cents per bag fee.

California, Hawaii, and New York have similar bag bans.

Environmental advocates say plastic bags are hard to recycle and often end up as litter.

An official representing plastic bag makers and recyclers claims bag bans could pave the way for thicker bags winding up in landfills.

"It isn't to punish anyone with a 5 cent paper bag," said bill sponsor Rep. Holly Stover, D-Boothbay. "It's really just to incentivize us to think about what we're using and what we're putting in our environment. And what we know, living in Maine and we have a large part of the coastline, is that plastic and plastic bags are ending up in the ocean."

"I think it's a burden on the consumer," said Rep. Dick Campbell, R-Orrington, who is opposed to the bill. "The less affluent are going to have to pay fees to get a paper bag. The testimony this morning told us about paper bags breaking in the parking lot and losing the contents."

Similar legislation is already on the books in about 20 Maine municipalities.