This is one of those things that you either weren't aware of or completely forgot about thanks to the COVID pandemic. Starting July 1, you either need to bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping in Maine or you'll have to pay a bag fee to purchase bags at the store if they offer them.

When did this law get passed?

The Maine State Legislature passed a law that was signed by Governor Mills in June of 2019 creating a statewide ban on single-use plastic carry-out bags. That law was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2021. However, just a few weeks before it was to take effect, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection delayed the enforcement of the law until July 1, because that was the last thing we needed to worry about right in the middle of the COVID pandemic.

Well, the timing seemed to be spot on. With over half of Mainers fully vaccinated, businesses opening up and the world slowly getting back to normal, Maine's new bag law is ready to go into effect.

How Does Maine's Bag Law Effect How Mainers Shop?

The biggest thing to keep in mind when July 1 arrives is that plastic bags will be gone. Unlike other cities like Portland who had a ban on single-use plastic bags prior to all of Maine, stores could still offer them for a fee. In Portland's case, it was 5 cents a bag.

With this new law, plastic bags will not be offered by Maine businesses that use bags for customer's items. So you have two choices. Purchase your own re-useable bag or purchase recyclable paper bags each time you do things like grocery shop. The cost of the paper bags, by law, must be at least 5 cents per bag with the business doing whatever they wish with the money collected.

What about other types of plastic bags, like garbage bags?

Any type of plastic bag sold in a package with several bags in it for garbage, pet waste or city recycling bags is exempt from the law. So no need to worry about throwing out your garbage in a paper bag. How inconvenient would that be?

From what we've seen on social media, signs have been put up in some Walmart locations in Maine alerting customers that Maine Walmarts will become completely bagless on July 1. You will need to bring your own bags to shop in-store and for pickup.

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