The new state bag ban (“Gov. Mills signs bill to ban single-use plastic bags,” June 17) needs a little tweaking.

I’m so glad that the Maine Legislature and Gov. Mills decided to remove single-use plastic bags from the local waste stream. Bags unnecessarily fill our landfills and the microplastics within the bags absorb toxic chemicals. Because microplastics (pieces of plastic debris less than 5 millimeters long) don’t break down, they keep the chemicals they absorb in the local environment forever. Banning bags is a huge win for everyone in Maine, especially the communities that live next to landfills.

But I also feel that this bag ban is not fully equitable for Maine residents and could use some small changes. I take issue, specifically, with the 5-cent fee that the law requires retailers and grocers to charge shoppers for each recyclable paper or reusable plastic bag.

This fee, though it may seem small, can be a burden for people in low-income communities in their transition away from single-use plastics. New York state’s bag ban exempts recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children from paying the bag fee. While Maine’s law exempts free food distribution centers, I believe that our state should follow New York’s lead and make the bag ban accessible.

This ban is a victory for our local environment and public health; thank you to Gov. Mills for signing it into law. I hope that the Maine Legislature considers amending it so that it is more just and equitable. No law should exacerbate financial problems for low-income people.

Jessica Brown

Mount Vernon

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