Senate approves Chipman bill to cut red tape for beverage startups

Posted: May 23, 2017 | Senator Chipman

The Maine Senate on Tuesday voted unanimously to give initial approval to a bill by Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, to cut red tape for small, nonalcoholic beverage producers.

The bill — LD 1409 “An Act To Reduce Regulations for Small Nonalcoholic Beverage Producers — would, as amended, allow small, non-alcoholic beverage startups that produce 10,000 gallons or less annually to wash and clean their bottles or cans by hand and to carbonate their beverages by hand, as long as all other sanitary requirements for larger producers are met.

“I’m grateful to the Senate for approving this commonsense bill to help these small businesses, which face huge start-up costs,” said Sen. Chipman. “They have to meet the same industrial-sized regulations that large beverage producers do and it is a great hinderance to the success of these new businesses. This bill will lessen that burden and help these startups succeed.”

Current law requires all nonalcoholic beverage producers to clean and sanitize their reusable beverage containers by a mechanized process. This machinery is expensive, which can be prohibitive for startup. This bill would cut that cost for the businesses until they are producing their product at a scale that would allow them to both afford the machinery and be producing enough of the product to make hand washing the containers no longer a sustainable business process.

LD 1409 now heads to the House of Representatives for an initial vote, and faces further votes in both chambers.