An Act To Encourage the Use of Alternatives to Single-use Plastic Disposable Bags
Sec. 1. 38 MRSA §1605, as repealed and replaced by PL 1991, c. 475, §1, is repealed.
Sec. 2. 38 MRSA §§1605-A and 1605-B are enacted to read:
§ 1605-A. Plastic bags
(1) Plastic bags used by consumers inside stores to package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy or small hardware items; to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not; to contain or wrap flowers, potted plants or other items where dampness may be a problem; and to contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods;
(2) Plastic bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs; or
(3) Plastic newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry or dry-cleaning bags or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste or yard waste bags.
The retailer shall document all fees collected under this subsection on a form determined by the commissioner and on a monthly basis submit to the department the completed form and fees collected, less the fee portions retained under paragraph A and, if applicable, under paragraph B. Fees remitted to the department under this subsection must be credited to the Plastics Recycling Fund established in section 1605-B.
The assessment of a fee under this subsection is not considered a sale of tangible personal property or taxable services under Title 36, section 1811, and the fees retained by the retailer are not considered revenue and are considered tax-exempt under Title 36, Part 8.
§ 1605-B. Plastics Recycling Fund
The Plastics Recycling Fund, referred to in this section as "the fund," is established within the department for the purpose of promoting recycling efforts related to plastics, including establishing statewide or county programs to promote plastics recycling and to educate the public about plastics recycling and about the benefits of the alternate use of reusable bags and establishing other programs that carry out the purposes of the fund as determined by the commissioner. Revenues in the fund may also be used to provide reusable bags to residents of the State, with priority distribution to elderly and low-income residents. The commissioner shall administer the fund. The fund is funded from fees collected under section 1605-A, subsection 3. Any unexpended money in the fund may not lapse, but must be carried forward to the next fiscal year. Revenues in the fund must be used for carrying out the purposes of the fund after reasonable costs for the administration of the fund by the department are deducted.
Sec. 3. Department of Environmental Protection; public information and outreach campaigns. By January 1, 2016, the Department of Environmental Protection shall develop and conduct an intensive public information campaign aimed at educating the public on the importance of reducing the number of single-use plastic disposable bags entering the waste stream and the impact of such bags on the environmental health of the State. By January 1, 2016, the department shall develop and implement an outreach campaign that includes a public-private partnership to provide reusable bags to residents of the State and, working with service providers that assist elderly and low-income residents, to distribute information and reusable bags to elderly and low-income households. The department may use funds in the Plastics Recycling Fund established under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 38, section 1605-B to cover the costs of developing and implementing these campaigns.
This bill requires a retailer to assess a 5¢ fee for a single-use plastic disposable bag distributed to a customer at the point of retail sale. The retailer retains 1¢ from each 5¢ fee for administrative costs and may elect to retain an additional 1¢ from each 5¢ fee to provide a carryout program that credits a customer no less than 5¢ for each bag provided by the customer at the point of retail sale for packaging purchases. The revenues from the fee, less the portion retained by the retailer for administrative costs and, if applicable, the carryout program, are credited to the Plastics Recycling Fund administered by the Department of Environmental Protection for the purpose of promoting recycling efforts in the State related to plastics. A retailer may provide recyclable paper products at the point of sale and must provide reusable bags for purchase by a customer. This bill authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to enforce these laws and impose penalties for violations. This bill also directs that, by January 1, 2016, the Department of Environmental Protection must conduct a public information campaign relating to plastics and their impact on the environment and must implement an outreach campaign aimed at providing reusable bags to residents of the State, especially to elderly and low-income households.