BATH — The City Council gave unanimous approval to ordinances that ban plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers in the city.

One ordinance would ban the use of single-use plastic bags and set fees on paper bags. The second would ban polystyrene foam containers, except for use with raw seafood, meat, or for items shipped into the city.

Both ordinances must pass a second public hearing and vote on Nov. 1. If approved, Bath would join Freeport and Brunswick in the ban of single-use plastic bags. Nearby Topsham has also regulated the containers with a five-cent fee on each plastic bag, similar to an ordinance passed in Portland.

The ordinance is the product of an ongoing effort by the Bath Solid Waste Advisory Committee. The committee began looking into the issue back in January, following the success of nearby communities in similar placing restrictions.

The move also follows state legislation – a Maine House bill passed on April 13 encourages municipalities to place restrictions on single-use plastic bags.

The committee reached out to area businesses over the past several weeks, according to Bath Public Works Director Lee Leiner. Two forums led by Leiner and the committee were held on Sept. 13 and 19, during which those present indicated positive responses to the ordinances.

One way Bath’s ordinance differs from neighboring towns is its handling of paper bags. In Bath, paper bags would initially face a 5 cent fee, which escalates year-over-year until it’s 15 cents from the third year forward. That proposal would make Bath the first community in the state to place an escalating fee on paper bags.

Leiner said the escalating fee is intended to discourage the use of paper over plastic, as paper bags require more carbon emissions to produce and transport and also have negative environmental impacts. The fee would serve as a reminder to bring reusable bags.

Some bags would be exempt from the ordinance, such as small produce bags, the kind typically found on a roll near vegetables, for example. In addition, reusable plastic bags would be allowed, as long as they meet a minimum thickness, have handles, and support at least 18 lbs.

Bath’s ban of all polystyrene foam is similar to Freeport, Brunswick, and Topsham. Freeport has had a polystyrene foam ban for over 25 years. The foam, which is typically used for drink cups or take-out containers, could still be sold to customers, but restaurants would be barred using the products.

Temporary establishments, such as vendors at Bath’s popular Heritage Days event, flea markets, or craft fairs, would be exempt from the bans.

Leiner added that an educational program is being planned, which will include making reusable bags available for area residents that may have trouble procuring their own.

If the ordinance is passed on Nov. 1, it will go into effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2018. The full details of the ordinance are available at

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.