Town of Bethel, ME
Oxford County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Bethel 6-11-2019. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
It is in the best interest of the Town of Bethel to protect the environment and our local economy by:
(1) 
Eliminating the distribution and use of single-use carry-out plastic bags, and encouraging the use of durable, reusable alternatives to disposable plastic shopping bags; and
(2) 
Eliminating the distribution and use of polystyrene foam food and beverage containers and packaging, and encouraging the use of reusable, recyclable, or compostable alternatives.
B. 
The purpose of this chapter is to:
(1) 
Reduce the impact of plastics on our environment and living organisms. Plastic bags and polystyrene foam are completely nonbiodegradable. They only break apart into pieces of micro plastics often mistaken for food by fish and wildlife. Larger pieces of plastic are eaten by wildlife and result in starvation for these animals. Plastic can also entangle wildlife resulting in death.
(2) 
Reduce litter on our roadsides. Both forms of plastic are found frequently as litter along Bethel roadsides and river/stream beds. This litter impacts Bethel's local tourism and fishing economy; and
(3) 
Reduce taxpayer expense to manage solid waste. Single-use plastic bags and foam are not recyclable in Bethel's present Town waste management system. Therefore, they are added to Bethel's solid waste stream or contaminate Bethel's recycling stream, and are a significant cost to the Town.
This chapter is enacted pursuant to the Town's Home Rule Authority under the Constitution of the State of Maine, Article VIII, Part 2, Section 1, and the provisions of 30-A M.R.S.A. § 3001 et seq.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
FOAM TAKE-OUT CONTAINER
A blown, expanded or extruded polystyrene container provided at the table, check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure for purposes of transporting food and beverage merchandise out of the store. This includes all containers received at drive-throughs, including cups, bowls, plates, and containers used for store-made packaged food. This does not include products prepackaged in polystyrene foam food or beverage containers packaged outside the Town of Bethel.
PRODUCE OR PRODUCT BAG
Any bag without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items or merchandise to the point of sale inside a store or to prevent such items from coming in direct contact with other items.
REUSABLE BAG
A bag that meets all of the following criteria:
A. 
Designed and manufactured to withstand 125 repeated uses over a period of time;
B. 
Is machine washable or made from a material that can be cleaned and disinfected regularly;
C. 
Is at least four mils thick, if made from plastic; and
D. 
Has the capability of carrying a minimum of 18 pounds.
SINGLE-USE CARRY-OUT PLASTIC BAG
A plastic bag provided at the check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure for purposes of transporting food and merchandise out of the store. This does not include reusable bags as defined above, compostable bags, biodegradable bags, reused plastic bags, or produce or product bags as defined above.
STORE
All retail establishments in the Town of Bethel, including but not limited to convenience stores, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, seasonal and temporary businesses, sellers of merchandise and dry goods sold to the ultimate consumer for direct use or consumption and not for resale. It does not include farm stands.
A. 
No store in the Town of Bethel shall sell or provide a single-use plastic carry-out bag to a customer at the check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the store.
B. 
No store in the Town of Bethel shall sell or provide a foam take-out container to a customer at the table, check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the store.
A. 
A store shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter in a situation deemed by the Town Manager to be an emergency for the immediate preservation of the public health or safety.
B. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit customers from using bags or food and beverage containers of any type that the customer brings into the store for their own use or from carrying away from the store.
A. 
The Town Manager or his/her designee(s) shall have the primary responsibility for enforcement of this chapter.
B. 
Violations of this chapter, as reported by the public, are to be investigated by the Town. If the Town Manager or his/her designee(s) determines that a violation of this chapter has occurred, he/she shall issue a written warning notice to the store that a violation has occurred. Subsequent violations of the chapter shall be subject to the penalties established by the Bethel Board of Selectmen.
Each provision of this chapter shall be deemed independent of all other provisions herein. If any provision of this chapter be declared invalid, all other provisions thereof shall remain valid and enforceable.
This chapter becomes effective immediately upon approval by Town vote.