On Monday, March 22, Ben Gilman, general counsel for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, delivered the following testimony before the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources in opposition to LD 640, An Act To Ban Single-serving, Disposable Plastic Water Bottles.
“The bottled water industry directly employs hundreds of Mainers every single day in our state and supports thousands of jobs across Maine. LD 640 would directly impact those jobs and have a negative impact on our state. As a state, water is one of our brands – what we are known for. In fact, water from Maine is the number one item sold in New York City. A few years back, I was at an education conference in Philadelphia, and everyone around the table had a bottle of water in front of them. The person next to me read the label – water from Maine. The conversation ensued that what a wonderful product it was to produce, and the conversation spread around the room. I am sure you all can guess where that water was from – Poland Spring. Next time you drink a bottle of Poland Spring water – read the label. What a great message to send out to world – what it means to be from Maine is clean water. Legislation such as LD 640 seeks to make it more difficult for business involved in water in Maine to operate – that is not the direction we want to go in as a state or the message we want to send to those outside of Maine.
If the reasoning behind the bill is to eliminate plastics from our waste stream, Maine has one of the highest plastic bottle recycling rates in the country, and we would put our bottle program up against any other state. Mainers take pride in our environment, and our recycling shows that. If LD 640 is being proposed because some of the plastics are fossil-fuel based, that issue is being addressed by research at our own University of Maine. The University of Maine is currently working on bio-based plastics that can be made from natural resources right here in Maine. LD 640 has the unintended consequence of negatively impacting the potential of the research at UMaine by placing an outright ban on plastic bottles.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce has a long history of opposing legislation that picks winners and losers, and this bill is not different. Singling out bottled water versus other liquid product sends the message that we are promoting one beverage over another, and it sends the message to others outside of Maine that we are not friendly to the bottling water industry that has a significant presence in our state. The Maine Chamber believes this bill will take us in the wrong direction as a state in trying to improve our business climate and urge the committee to oppose this bill.”
If you have questions or would like more information about LD 640, please contact Ben Gilman by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 108, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.