Providence on track to ban single-use plastic bags

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence leaders are again seeking to ban single-use plastic bags in the capital city. And this time, Mayor Jorge Elorza is on board.

The City Council Finance Committee gave its blessing Wednesday a revised ordinance that would still fine retailers caught offering single-use plastic bags to customers $50 for the first violation and $100 for all subsequent offenses beginning one year after its passage, but removes a 10-cent fee for shoppers who use the plastic bags rather than bringing reusable bags from home.

The council approved a similar proposal last year, but Elorza vetoed it, citing concerns from the community. A spokesperson for the mayor confirmed the administration supports the new ordinance.

“I am proud to announce that tonight the council’s committee on finance took up the Retail Plastic Bag Reduction Act that I introduced last year,” Council Majoirty Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) said. “This initiative is a thoughtful and measured approach to reducing the number of carryout plastic bags distributed and our dependence on them in our communities, and the adverse effects they have on our environment.”

Certain exemptions to the ordinance would include dry cleaning and laundry bags, as well as bags used for frozen foods.

Ryan said she was worked with various community groups in recent months to ensure that we get this right.” She said the revised ordinance “requires an implementation plan within 60 days of passage, along with quarterly progress reports from the city‘s director of the office of sustainability, no fee at point of purchase for consumers, and will involve a myriad of community partners to help with implementation, outreach and education.”

Rhode Island lawmakers are also considering legislation that would largely ban single-use plastic bags across the state.

The Providence ordinance is expected to be considered by the full council in April.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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