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RI Senate unanimously passes statewide plastic bag ban

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Senate unanimously approved legislation on Thursday that would restrict the use of plastic bags statewide.

The bill, sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, would ban the use of single-use plastic bags at checkout counters, requiring businesses to instead place purchased items in recyclable paper bags or reusable bags brought in 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 enacted similar policies to promote and encourage the use of recyclable bags, and I think it’s appropriate to be consistent throughout the state.”

Under the legislation, retailers would be prohibited from making available any single-use plastic checkout bag or any paper checkout bag that is not a recyclable paper bag or a paper carryout bag at restaurants.

The Senate bill has a key change from the House version, by requiring that reusable bags have “stitched handles, which is similar to language in plastic bag bans in multiple cities and towns.

The House version, which passed the House Environment and Agriculture Committee Thursday, does not require stitched handles. The House version mirrors a compromise that came out of a plastics task force, and was written by the Department of Environmental Management.

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