A ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers approved by Rockland officials earlier this year will take effect at the start of the new year. A similar ban will also take effect in April for Camden residents.
The Rockland City Council approved the citywide ban this past March, but did not schedule the ordinance to take effect until Jan. 1, 2019, to allow businesses and residents to prepare.
Rockland will join more than a dozen other Maine communities that have similar ordinances prohibiting stores from giving shoppers single-use plastic bags. Since Portland enacted its plastic bag ordinance in 2014, a string of other coastal communities — including Topsham, Freeport, Brunswick, Bath and Belfast — have followed suit. Bar Harbor is currently considering a similar bag ban ordinance.
At the polls in November, Camden voters approved implementing a ban on single-use plastic bags and carry-out polystyrene foam containers. Camden’s ban takes effect April 30, according to town documents.
Residents and city officials in Rockland were motivated to enact the ban based on concerns about the impact the materials have on the environment and to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags.
Initially, the council was considering implementing a fee structure for paper bags given out by merchants instead of plastic bags. However, the proposed fee was dropped from the original ordinance, and council members have not since discussed adding the fee back into the ordinance, according to City Manager Tom Luttrell.
Through the group Rockland Main Street Inc., eight businesses and organizations have pitched in to purchase 5,000 reusable shopping bags to help start or add to the stockpile of reusable bags in Rockland homes.
“It’s more than enough bags to cover every household in the city,” said Gordon Page, executive director of Rockland Main Street Inc.
Starting in the new year, the bags will be distributed to people who live or shop in Rockland at several places throughout the city, including from the eight sponsors of the bag project, as well as retail shops, schools and the library, Page said.