A proposal to attach a 10-cent fee to disposable shopping bags in the city of Portland has won the endorsement of a special working group and will head to a City Council subcommittee for review.
The Green Packaging Working Group voted 8 to 5 in favor of the idea after a discussion Monday. The council’s Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee will take up the proposal next, but no discussion has been scheduled.
The 10-cent fee would be charged for both plastic and paper bags and is intended to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags and reduce litter, including plastic that washes into the streams, storm drains and Casco Bay.
Opponents of the idea, including a group representing Maine grocers, has said a fee would encourage people to shop outside Portland, and that education and recycling are better solutions to the litter problem.
As originally proposed, the fee would apply to bags given out by grocery and convenience stores. Before the vote, members of the task force extended the proposed fee to include dry cleaners, restaurants and food trucks and farmers markets.
The group also endorsed an amendment to allow the city manager to authorize the distribution of bags with no fee in the event of an emergency situation.
More than 100 ordinances in 17 states and the District of Columbia ban plastic bags or impose fees on them, according to the Surfrider Foundation, a California-based environmental group that is advocating for stricter rules in Portland.