PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The city's Green Packaging Task Force has been studying different ways communities throughout the country have combated the environmental impacts of disposable, plastic shopping bags in an effort to craft an ordinance to do just that.
The plan they are currently debating would force grocery and convenience stores to charge customers ten cents for each disposable plastic and paper bag they use to package up a customers order.
"What we really want to do is change people's habits," explained task force member and Portland City Councilor, Ed Suslovic. "It makes a lot of sense, because the concern is, especially the plastic bags, end up in out water."
The draft ordinance would allow retailers to keep 40% of the fees they collect to produce signs educating customers about the charge and covering the costs of reprogramming computers. The other revenues generated would be put into the city's sewer fund to aid in education and clean-up efforts.
"I'm confident that we will be able to implement this in a way that is fair to businesses, that is manageable to businesses," he said.
Paul Trusiani, owner of Paul's Food Center, says he feels like grocery stores are being singled out and wonders why department stores and restaurants would be exempt.
He also admits that the program would not be a big deal for his store because many of his customers would be exempt because people who use government funded food programs would also be exempt.
He says implementing the program will be tricky logistically.
"You can't really ring up the order until you finish bagging the order," he said. "I can see that causing a nightmare at the front end at the big stores."
The Green Packaging Task Force will continue to debate the merits of the proposal at its next meeting scheduled for February.