Statewide plastic bag ban heads for McKee’s office

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Rhode Island lawmakers have approved legislation banning single-use plastic bags statewide.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Speaker Dominick Ruggerio, would ban the use of single-use plastic bags at checkouts, requiring businesses to place purchased items in recyclable paper bags or reusable bags brought by the customer. .

“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 Rhode Island jurisdictions, including 10 local communities, have already adopted similar policies to promote and encourage the use of recyclable bags, and I believe it is appropriate to be consistent statewide.”

Rhode Island retailers who fail to comply with the proposed ban would be fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and $500 for the third and all subsequent offenses. The legislation stipulates that these penalties are reset each year.

“I represent two coastal communities and we have seen firsthand the damage plastic bags have caused to our oceans and our environment for many years now,” said Representative Carol Hagan McEntee. “In Rhode Island, we throw away approximately 26,000 tons of plastic bags and plastic wrap each year. When you think about the weight of small plastic bags, that’s a staggering amount of trash that needs to be disposed of in our state.

The ban would go into effect Jan. 1, 2024, or within one year of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management establishing regulations, whichever comes first.

Seventeen Rhode Island communities have enacted single-use plastic bag bans in recent years, including Cranston, Newport and Providence. The first community to do so was Barrington, which banned plastic bags in 2019.

The legislation is now heading to Governor Dan McKee’s office for signing. It is not known at the moment if he plans to sign him.

Bryce K. Locke