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October 4, 2018

Hannaford to charge nickel fee for paper grocery bags in 5 Maine stores

Five Maine branches of Hannaford Supermarkets next week will begin charging customers a 5-cent fee for each paper grocery bag the stores provide.

Hannaford outlets in Belfast, Brunswick, Kennebunk, Saco and York will add the nickel surcharge on Oct. 8 to encourage customers to bring reusable, eco-friendly bags to the checkout lane, according to spokesman Eric Blom.

Each of the towns prohibits single-use plastic bags, leaving paper ones the only type Hannaford offers customers in those communities. The paper packaging is recycled more easily than plastic, and is often considered to pose fewer environmental dangers.

But paper bags are also more expensive, and transporting them to local stores can require four times as many truck trips as needed for the plastic ones, Seacoastonline.com reported last week.

"Both manufacturing and transportation costs are significantly higher for paper bags, and trucks burn a lot of fossil fuel," said Michael Norton, another Hannaford spokesman. The 5-cent charge reflects Hannaford's cost for a single paper bag, he added.

The Scarborough-based supermarket chain, which opened its 181st store in July in Mechanic Falls, will also add the surcharge in one of its Vermont stores and in a Massachusetts branch, according to Blom.

"We are confident this will help increase reusable bag usage in these communities, where residents have expressed concern about single-use shopping bags," he said in an email Thursday.

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