WATERVILLE — A group looking to recommend regulations on single-use plastic bags is prepared to move forward with a proposed ban on the bags for a number of the city’s stores.

Leading the effort to regulate bags are members of the Sustain Mid Maine Coalition, who have been meeting monthly since the summer. Linda Woods, coordinator of the organization, on Thursday said the group determined that an outright ban on single-use plastic bags at businesses that get 2 percent or more of their income from food sales, rather than a fee on the bags, like other cities have implemented, would be the best course of action, since the environment is the primary concern.

“We did a lot of research, a lot of thinking and discussing,” Woods said.

The group decided not to include paper bags in their proposal, and Woods said that was based on the thinking that the community may not be ready for both. And since the goal was to reduce waste in the environment, she said the group ultimately came down on just plastic for the time being. It has not drafted an ordinance yet, but plans to go to the City Council after the upcoming November election.

Initially, the group discussed bag fees. Many towns and cities in the state have begun placing such fees on the bags, usually 5 cents a bag, with Portland leading the way in 2015.

In its August meeting, the group indicated it wanted to use the Portland plan as a blueprint for their own eventual regulation. Portland placed a fee on both plastic and paper bags in stores with 2 percent or more of their business coming from food. Woods said the Waterville proposal would exclude meat and produce bags at grocery stores and would also exclude restaurants.

Woods said the decision to go with a ban instead of a fee came down to not wanting people to view the fee as another tax, especially considering they believe city residents to be overtaxed as it is.

“An outright ban would be better for the environment in the long run,” Woods said.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: colinoellis

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