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Posted on: June 21, 2019

Straw Ban Proposal Discussed at June 19 Committee Meeting

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On Wednesday, June 19, the Sustainability and Transportation Committee took up a proposal by Councilor Brian Batson to ban the distribution of plastic beverage straws in the city of Portland. Straws made of non-plastic materials including paper, metal, and bamboo would be allowed. Restaurants and stores would be able to provide plastic straws to people with disabilities who may need them.

The ever increasing amounts of plastic waste entering our waterways motivated Councilor Batson to propose these amendments.  

“The great pacific garbage patch is larger than the country of France,” said Councilor Batson. “Scientists expect in the next decade the amount of plastic in the ocean will triple. Banning plastic straws and plastic bags in Portland will protect Casco Bay and help preserve our vibrant fishing and tourism industries.”

He noted that banning single use plastic items like bags and straws is also in line with the City’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Sustainability Coordinator Troy Moon added, “Manufacturing plastic goods emits large amounts of CO2 but that’s not the end of it.  Studies have shown that as plastics degrade in the environment they release methane which is an even more potent greenhouse gas.”

Councilor Batson also introduced an amendment to replace Portland’s $0.05 fee on plastic bags with an outright ban. However, both houses of the Maine legislature recently passed a bill that would ban plastic bags statewide and the Governor’s signature on this bill now makes the bag amendment unnecessary.  

The City of Portland has led statewide efforts to reduce plastic pollution. In April 2015, it became the first municipality in Maine to regulate plastic bags with the adoption of a $0.05 fee and the second municipality in the state to ban polystyrene foam packaging. Since then, dozens of communities have adopted similar ordinances leading to adoption of state bans for both products.

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