Portland, Maine, imposes nickel fee on shopping bags this week

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PORTLAND, Maine — Portland is the first community in Maine to both ban polystyrene foam food and beverage containers and to impose a nickel fee for disposable shopping bags.

Supporters say the measures — which go into effect on Wednesday in Portland — will reduce litter and help the environment.

Opponents say they're an unnecessary burden on consumers and don't address the real causes of litter. They also say they are inconsistent, since some businesses will be exempt.

More than 130 communities across the country have adopted disposable bag fees ranging from 5 cents to 25 cents for each bag. Fewer communities have banned polystyrene. Freeport has banned foam containers since the early 1990s and Maine prohibits food service vendors from using polystyrene at state-owned facilities.

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