News icon




Fees for single-use carry-out bags, ban on polystyrene foam approved

Cape Elizabeth joins a growing number of Maine communities regulating single-use carry out bags.

Following a public hearing, the Town Council on Nov. 6, 2017 approved an amendment to the Health and Sanitation ordinance requiring establishments that sell food in Cape Elizabeth to charge five cents for each single-use bag given to customers to carry home their purchase.

The regulation is similar to those in Portland and South Portland.

A draft presented at the hearing applied the bag fee to all retail establishments, not just food stores, but the approved amendment affects only stores where food generates at least 2 percent of sales. "While behavior is starting to shift, it hasn't fully shifted to the point where people have an expectation that they might need their own reusable bag in any retail establishment they go into," said Jamie Garvin, Town Council chair.

Councilors voted 4-1 to institute the bag fee, with Councilor Jessica Sullivan opposed. She said she saw the fee as inconvenience, and that there wasn't enough sales volume in town to make much of a difference. Councilors Caitlin Jordan and Penny Jordan were recused because of family ties to farm stands.

In a separate vote, councilors unanimously approved a second amendment to the same ordinance prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam food containers in town.

The ordinance amendments meet a 2016 council goal to consider banning all single-use plastic bags in retail establishments. Ecomaine's recent ban on plastic bags in the single-sort recycling stream was another reason cited for the ordinance amendment.