BATH

With no members of the public speaking for or against the proposal, the Bath City Council voted unanimously in favor of a ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers.

This was the council’s second passage of the two ordinances, meaning they will be law in 21 days. The ordinances do not go into effect, however, until April 22 of next year — Earth Day.

“In that time there’s going to be an educational period and some other things to help with the transition before April 22,” said City Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco.

The goal of the ordinances is to “return to a culture of sustainability,” said Lee Leiner, as well as to reduce litter.

The first ordinance bans single-use plastic bags at the point of sale. Produce or product bags are exempted. The ban applies to all retail establishments and restaurants in the city, with few exemptions.

The ordinance also includes small fees on single-use paper bags as a disincentive to their use.

“Paper bags may be sold for a nickel in the first year, a dime in the second year, and 15 cents in the third year,” Leiner said. “All of the revenues from those paper bag sales stay with the business selling the bag to you.”

The second ordinance bans the use of polystyrene containers for the purpose of selling prepared food. Raw meat and raw or live seafood are exempted from the ordinance. The ban does not prevent the sale of polystyrene containers, but they will not be permitted at city-sponsored events or facilities.

“In this particular case, there are plenty of alternatives out in the market for these uses,” said Leiner.

While some Bath residents spoke out about the proposals at the September city council meeting and there were two information sessions open to the public, no one spoke in opposition to the ordinance before its final passage.

Bath joins a number of Maine communities seeking to limit single-use bags and polystyrene containers. The Associated Press reports that Cape Elizabeth this week approved a 5-cent fee on single-use bags and a banned foam containers in restaurants and other stores that serve prepared foods.

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