A coffee cup made from polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, lies on the side of a road, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Augusta, Maine. Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Tuesday, April 30 making Maine one of the first states to ban single-use containers made from polystyrene foam. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

With two separate votes this past week, all four towns on Mount Desert Island have now banned commercial distribution of single-use plastic retail shopping bags and polystyrene takeout food containers.

On Monday, voters in Tremont heavily favored both bans, according to Christopher Saunders, Tremont’s town manager. The plastic bag ban was approved 126-39, while voters approved a polystyrene ban by a 114-37 ballot vote, Saunders said.

The bans go into effect in Tremont on Oct. 21, Saunders said. Last month the Legislature approved a statewide ban on polystyrene food containers, but that ban does not go into effect until 2021.

The bans are seen as environmental measures that will reduce the amount of plastic that gets into the environment, especially into the oceans, where the substances break into ever smaller pieces and then are ingested by fish and other sea life.

On Tuesday, May 7, residents in the town of Mount Desert considered the same proposals and also voted in favor of the bans, according to a report in the weekly Mount Desert Islander newspaper. The bans went into effect in that town the following day, according to the report.

The two other towns on MDI, where most of Acadia National Park is located and which attracts millions of tourists every summer, already have adopted bans on plastic shopping bags and polystyrene. The Bar Harbor Town Council voted in January to adopt such bans, while Southwest Harbor approved identical bans last November.

Restrictions or bans on plastic shopping bags and polystyrene food containers also have been enacted in Bath, Blue Hill, Belfast, Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Damariscotta, Falmouth, Freeport, Kennebunk, Portland, Saco, South Portland, Topsham, York and Rockland.

Bangor’s city council voted Monday night to ban polystyrene, known commonly as Styrofoam, but has not banned plastic shopping bags.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....