Plastic bag ban approved again by Rhode Island Senate

PROVIDENCE, RI — Local lawmakers are once again considering a statewide ban on plastic bags in Rhode Island. On Thursday, the Senate approved the legislation, long championed by President Dominick Ruggerio.

The proposal has received some support from lawmakers in previous sessions, although it has yet to reach the governor’s office. In early 2020, it was approved by the entire Senate, before the coronavirus pandemic abruptly cut short the session.

If enacted, the bill would require stores to offer recyclable options instead of single-use plastic bags, penalizing those who do not comply.

“We all know how dangerous plastic pollution is to the health of our oceans and marine life, and how it contributes to climate change,” Ruggerio said. “Several jurisdictions in Rhode Island have already adopted similar policies to promote and encourage the use of recyclable bags, and I believe this should be consistent across the state.”

Reducing plastic waste has long been an issue in coastal communities like Rhode Island, where plastics can clog waterways and break down into microplastics, which endanger the fishing industry and ecosystems when released. eaten by fish. The bill also notes that plastic bags and films are the primary culprits for contaminated recycling loads in the state.

Also on Thursday, the Senate approved a bill to exempt reusable bags from state sales tax.

If enacted, the plastic bag ban will go into effect on January 1, 2024 or within one year of the Department of Environmental Management creating the regulations, whichever comes first.

The bill is now heading to the House of Representatives.

Bryce K. Locke