Maine took another step toward joining a handful of states that ban single-use plastic bags following a 91-52 vote in the House of Representatives Thursday.
The bill bans most single-use bags by 2022, prohibiting most large retailers from distributing them at the point of sale while continuing to allow them in other instances, such as packaging fruits and vegetables.
Democratic Rep. Lori Gramlich, of Old Orchard Beach, says the statewide prohibition would end the patchwork of ordinances passed by more than two dozen municipalities, while also curbing a major source of plastic pollution.
"If we continue on the trajectory that we have, as much fish as plastic will be in our oceans by the year 2050," she says.
But Republican Rep. Richard Campbell, of Orrington, says the ban would do little to curb plastic pollution."The problem we have here is not a problem of plastic, it's a problem of littering. It's a cultural problem."
The bill, supported by the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Maine Retailers Association, requires large retailers to replace single-use plastic bags with paper or reusable plastic bags that are at least 4 millimeters thick.
Republicans say the ban raises costs for consumers.
Additional votes are needed before the bill goes to Gov. Janet Mills
Originally published May 30, 2019 at 2:02 p.m. ET.