Enforcement of statewide bans on single-use plastic carry-out bags and disposable polystyrene foam food containers have been delayed until July 1, 2021, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The bans had been scheduled to go into effect Jan. 15 and Jan. 1 respectively.
The decision to delay was due to the practical and logistical effects of the pandemic, which has disrupted traditional packaging supplies, the department said.
Due to the increased demand for “curbside pickup” for groceries and food — causing a lower supply in reusable plastic and paper bags — as well as virus concerns over customers using reusable bags from home, customers have been forced to move back to store-supplied single-use bags.
A similar disruption to polystyrene foam alternatives have also caused the delay in enforcement, the department said. An increased demand for disposable food ware as well as the increased use of the food service containers by schools, homeless shelters and other groups have also contributed.
The department encourages those that use these two products to focus on procuring alternatives and depleting current stocks before the new enforcement date, it said.