PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The ordinance that bans retailers in Providence from offering customers single-use plastic bags began Tuesday.
Under the ban, businesses are only able to provide reusable or recyclable paper bags.
Retailers found offering customers single-use plastic bags will be issued a warning for their first offense. After the warning, they will subsequently be fined $50 for a second violation and $100 for any additional offenses.
There are certain uses that are exempt from the ban including dry cleaning, laundry and frozen food bags. Bags that keep newspaper from getting wet are also exempt.
In addition, businesses not ready for the transition can request an exemption with the Director of the Office of Sustainability – which can approve the request with or without conditions on a case-by-case basis.
More than 30 businesses have already applied for an exemption, including Chalkstone Supermarket. The business said it applied for the exemption so it could deplete its inventory of bags with the store’s logo on them.
In April, the Providence City Council unanimously approved the Retail Plastic Ban Reduction Act signed into law by Mayor Jorge Elorza.
City officials say the new ban does not mandate or prohibit stores from charging a fee for reusable bags. Previously, there was a 10-cent fee for shoppers who used plastic bags rather than bringing their own reusable ones from home.
Last year, Elorza vetoed the ordinance by the city council, citing a lack of community input at the time.
Several local communities, including Newport, Portsmouth, and dozens of Massachusetts communities have passed similar bans. A ban in East Providence is set to go into effect on Nov. 7.
There are still efforts to expand this ban to be statewide. A bill passed earlier this year in the Senate but did not make it past the House.