June 17th, 2019 – Augusta, ME – Governor Mills Signs Plastic Bag Ban Law. Beginning April 22, 2020 (Earth Day) single-use plastic bags will no longer be legal to provide at a retail establishment’s point of check-out. The law creates a consistent statewide single-use plastic bag policy (ban) and adds a 5¢ fee on paper bags and 4mm plastic bags (retained by the retailer).
“Beginning April 22, 2020 a retail establishment may use a recycled paper bag or a reusable bag made of plastic to bag products at the point of sale as long as the retail establishment charges a fee of at least 5¢ per bag. All amounts collected pursuant to this paragraph are retained by the retail establishment and may be used for any lawful purpose. A retail establishment may not rebate or otherwise reimburse a customer any portion of the fee charged pursuant to this paragraph.”
Click to read the Chaptered Law.
Plastic Bag Exemptions Include:
(1) Bags provided by a pharmacy to a customer for transporting a prescription medication away from the store;
(2) Bags without handles used to protect items from being damaged or from damaging or contaminating other purchased items placed in a recycled paper bag or a reusable bag;
(3) Bags used by customers inside a retail establishment to package loose items, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, bakery goods, candy, greeting cards or small hardware items; to contain or wrap frozen foods, meats or fish; or to contain or wrap flowers or potted plants;
(4) Laundry, dry cleaning or garment bags, including bags provided by a hotel to guests to contain wet or dirty clothing or bags provided to protect large garments like suits, jackets or dresses;
(5) Newspaper bags;
(6) Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended to contain garbage, pet waste or yard waste;
(7) Bags used to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in pet stores;
(8) Bags used for vehicle tires;
(9) Bags used to transport chemical pesticides, drain cleaning chemicals or other caustic chemicals sold at a retail establishment;
(10) Bags used by a hunger relief organization such as a food pantry or soup kitchen to distribute food directly to the consumer at no charge;
(11) Bags that customers bring to the retail establishment for their own use or for carrying away from the retail establishment goods that are not placed in a bag provided by the retail establishment.
Statewide Preemption: To ensure maximum effectiveness through uniform statewide application, the State intends to occupy the whole field of regulation of single-use carry-out bags at retail establishments beginning April 22, 2020. A local government may not adopt an ordinance regulating single-use carry-out bags at retail establishments and, beginning April 22, 2020, any ordinance or regulation that violates this subsection is void and has no force or effect.
Paper Bag Definition: “Recycled paper bag” means a paper bag that:
(1) Is 100% recyclable; and
(2) Contains at least 20% post-consumer recycled material if it has a capacity to hold at least 8 pounds
Reusable Bag Definition: Reusable bag” means a bag with handles that:
(1) Is designed and manufactured to withstand a minimum of 75 repeated uses;
(2) Is machine washable or made from a material that can be cleaned and disinfected regularly;
(3) If made from plastic is at least 4 mils thick; and
(4) Has the capability of carrying a minimum of 18 pounds.
Collection Receptacles: A retail establishment may make single-use carry-out bags made of plastic that are exempted in paragraph B available to customers to bag products within the retail establishment other than at the point of sale only if the retail establishment:
(1) Locates inside the retail establishment or within 20 feet of the main entrance to the retail establishment a receptacle for collecting any used single-use carry-out bags made of plastic; and
(2) Ensures that single-use carry-out bags made of plastic that are collected by the retail establishment are recycled or delivered to a person engaged in recycling plastics.