The Portland City Council is proposing a one-two punch on businesses and residents, hitting people right in the wallet: a 10-cent tax paid by consumers on plastic and paper bags, and a ban on polystyrene products like coffee cups, take-out containers and meat trays at restaurants, grocery and convenience stores.

The proposed bag tax is more expansive than that of any other city in the country requiring all grocery and convenience stores, restaurants, dry cleaners, farmers markets and pharmacies to collect a 10-cent tax on every plastic and paper bag.

The city would keep 60 percent of the tax to establish a new bureaucracy to police the tax. While bag taxes have been passed in other communities across the country, most cities, like San Francisco, allow the retailer to keep the tax.

Consumers, struggling to keep up with rising prices, are the real losers. How will people who rely on government assistance find the cash to pay the tax?

There’s more. The proposal to ban polystyrene products poses as an effort to reduce litter.

Never mind that retailers use polystyrene containers because they work and ensure proper sanitation. Never mind that there are viable recycling opportunities for these containers. Instead, proponents are adamant that a product ban will end their litter problem.

In fact, the opposite is true; product bans adversely affect the economy, as consumers and businesses absorb increased costs of alternatives. Moreover, product bans simply change the composition of litter, as opposed to stopping littering.

Don’t impose another tax on city residents and don’t increase regulatory burdens on the retail community; they are already doing the right thing. Do the right thing by partnering with the businesses, residents and environmental groups to figure out a better recycling system. It can be done, says Shelley Doak of the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association.

Curtis Picard

Retail Association of Maine

Greg Dugal

Maine Restaurant Association

Augusta