The town of Kennebunk may follow in Portland’s footsteps and impose a fee on plastic bags.

Unlike Portland, however, the town’s energy committee is recommending the idea first be put to voters in November as a nonbinding referendum.

“We’re just trying to find the interest level in the public. We don’t want to put a lot of effort into this unless we have enough support,” said Dennis Andersen, chairman of the Energy Efficiency Committee.

Andersen said he doesn’t envision adding fees for paper bags, as Portland did.

Meanwhile, the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group that first brought the disposable bag issue to light in Portland, will meet next week to talk about whether to continue its campaign in other towns.

Matthew Faulkner, who coordinates the Maine chapter’s Rise Above Plastics campaign, first raised the issue over plastic bags in Portland in 2011. At the time, he also approached Cape Elizabeth, where he lives.

Faulkner said the town was interested in the idea, but he didn’t pursue it because he was working on Portland’s ordinance.

“I focused on (Portland) with the idea that if the city of Portland would go for these two items – and I had a pretty good feeling they would – then other communities would see that it’s not that big a deal and they could do it, too, and we could use Portland as a model,” Faulkner said.

Cape Elizabeth is not actively considering a bag fee, said Town Councilor Caitlin Jordan, who serves as a liaison to the recycling committee.

Faulkner said he has been contacted by Falmouth. The Falmouth Town Hall is closed on Fridays, and additional information was not immediately available.

The Portland City Council on June 17 voted 6-3 to assess a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags. It also banned polystyrene foam containers for food and drink. Both measures take effect on April 15.

The bag fee will apply at stores where food – including milk, bread, soda and snacks – constitutes at least 2 percent of gross sales. The fee will be charged for both plastic and paper bags, with the stores keeping the money.

Dry cleaners, restaurants and farmers markets will be exempt.

The proposal drew lengthy testimony from supporters, who believe the fee will decrease use and litter, and opponents, mainly businesses that worry about increased costs and administrative issues.

The council’s final decision came two years after it officially referred the idea to its Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee.

Emily Figdor, executive director of Environment Maine, an environmental advocacy group, said she would rather see communities ban plastic bags. However, she was encouraged to hear that Kennebunk was considering a bag fee to discourage the use of disposable bags.

“We’d love to see additional municipalities take action (to) reduce plastic pollution,” Figdor said. “We would prefer cities and towns actually ban plastic bags, because that keeps plastic bags out of circulation.”

In 2012, the town of Windham was asked by an eighth-grader to ban plastic shopping bags. Instead, the Windham Town Council passed a resolution asking the Legislature to pass a statewide ban on plastic bags.

Several councilors could not be reached Friday to field questions about whether the town was considering a fee.

Andersen said Kennebunk became interested in regulating plastic bags after several committee members viewed the film “Bag It,” which tells the story of a man who decides to stop using plastic grocery bags and eventually learns of the environmental harms of plastic.

The fact that most stores offer plastic bags for free encourages plastic pollution, he said.

“They’re not free, because they stay in the environment,” he said. “It’s a hidden cost that the public hasn’t addressed yet.”

Andersen said the group is “very encouraged” by the Portland City Council’s decision to move ahead with a 5-cent fee per bag.

“Portland is very courageous,” he said. “You’re showing us the way.”