A public hearing was held Monday on a bill that would ban the sale of plastic water bottles in Maine. This bill would prohibit the sale and distribution of water in plastic containers of one liter or less. The bill doesn’t apply to soda, juice, or flavored water that comes in single-serving, disposable plastic bottles.


The legislation is sponsored by Representative Lori Gramlich, of Old Orchard Beach, who sees it as an issue to improve the environment and public health.


During the public hearing before the Legislature’s Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, opponents from the food and beverage industry, grocery stores, convenience stores, truckers, and bottled water producers, testified against the proposed ban, citing the negative financial impact on their businesses and employees. Redemption Center owners testified in opposition stating that plastic water bottles are the single most redeemed item in the state and account for a third of the volume.


The bill would also create an exception during public health or safety emergencies in which the governor has declared an emergency proclamation.


Bottled water is the largest selling beverage in Maine and across the U.S. If this bill passes, Maine would become the first state to ban single-use, plastic water bottles. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection testified neither for nor against saying that 75-87 percent of all plastic water bottles sold in Maine are recovered and recycled.