Just days after Brookline, Massachusetts un-banned Styrofoam, to make takeout/delivery easier for restaurants to manage, the entire state of Maine has reversed a plastic bag ban. This week Maine Governor Janet Mills announced that the ban, which was supposed to start in April, will be postponed.
Why? The thinking goes that re-usable bags spread germs. As Plastics News reports, just two days before Mills' announcement, there was this:
The mayor of the small town of Waterville, Maine, urged the city March 15 to temporarily suspend a ban on plastic bags it passed last year, as well as encourage retailers to ban shoppers from using bags brought from home.
"These reusable tote bags can sustain the COVID-19 and flu viruses — and spread the viruses throughout the store," said Mayor Nick Isgro, on his Facebook page. "Be assured this is not to re-litigate our current ordinance. … This should be seen as a temporary public safety measure."
… But organizations advocating for reusable packaging say properly washed reusables are as safe as disposables.
The Rockport, Maine-based group Upstream said in a March 17 statement that single-use disposables can also harbor viruses and pathogenic bacteria acquired along the supply chain, and it said the crisis points to the need for stronger reusable systems.
I recommend reading the entire PN article, which is well-reported; it points both to studies showing that "the vast majority of consumers don't wash reusable bags enough to counteract [the transfer of bacteria]" to disputations of those studies by health officials. I expect that these disputes will continue.