REGION — Back in June of 2019 the Maine State Legislature passed a law banning the use of single-use plastic carry-out bags. The law was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Then the pandemic hit and most retailers banned reusable bags for months; then consumers who wanted to use them were told they would have to pack their own merchandise.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection delayed enforcing the ban, which includes polystyrene foam food containers, until July 1, 2021. That reprieve gave Republican lawmakers time to introduce bills that would repeal the law, but those efforts went nowhere and the law is still set to take effect in three weeks.

Walmart in Oxford is reminding people that it will not longer provide single-use bags starting July 1.

The recent lead up to the ban has been relatively quiet, but Walmart in Oxford ignited a barrage of complaints when it posted a sign at the entrance to alert customers and shared it on its Facebook page ( earlier this week. The big-box retailer had already piloted a “bagless” program in Vermont last year (, where a reported 78% of its customers supported the policy.

Many retailers had already stopped using the single-use bags before the law passed, including Save A Lot in South Paris which hasn’t offered bags in years except for sale. And most chains have long placed reusable bags for sale at check-out points.

While plastic bags will no longer be offered by businesses for shoppers, people can use their own re-useable bags or purchase recyclable paper bags as they shop and check-out. The cost of the paper bags, by law, must be at least 5 cents per bag with the business doing whatever they wish with the money collected.

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