PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence City Council, coincidentally on Earth Day, once again approved an ordinance that will ban the use of plastic bags citywide, and this time, Mayor Jorge Elorza plans to sign it.
The council passed a revised ordinance, called the Retail Plastic Bag Reduction Act, Monday that would fine retailers caught offering single-use plastic bags to customers. The fines would include $50 for the first violation and $100 for all subsequent offenses.
“It’s sending a good strong message that we need to get plastic bags out of our single-stream recycling system and also just reduce our dependency on plastic bags,” Council Majority Leader (Ward 5) Jo-Ann Ryan said.
The revised ordinance also removes a 10-cent fee for shoppers who use plastic bags rather than bringing reusable bags from home. Exemptions to the ordinance include dry cleaning and laundry bags, as well as bags used for frozen foods.
The ordinance will take effect six months after its passage, that way businesses can deplete their stock of plastic bags. During that time, the city’s Office of Sustainability will also educate business owners and residents on how they can transition from plastic bags to recyclable ones.
“The good thing about this ordinance is it has a healthy dose of outreach and education. We think we’ve taken a big step today to create a healthier Providence and a greener Providence,” Ryan said.
The council approved a similar proposal last year, but Elorza vetoed it, citing concerns from the community. A spokesperson for Elorza said Monday he is in full support of the revised ordinance and plans to sign it within the next few days.
“Tonight’s meeting falling on Earth Day was not planned by the council, but it seems very fitting that today we celebrate the Earth and renew our dedication to the fight for its care in our own way with the passage of this legislation,” Ryan said.