Bag Bans Proposed In RI - What Do You Think?

Bristol might follow Barrington's lead, Providence Rep. proposes state-wide ban.


Plastic bags, a retail staple conveying purchases from shoes to groceries, endanger wildlife, comprise the majority of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling mass of seaborne junk — and may be banned in Rhode Island.

Barrington passed a local ban on plastic bags in October that took effect Jan. 1. Bristol is considering a ban as well, though a vote on the matter has been postponed for further study.

Rep. Maria Cimini (D-Dist. 7, Providence) is proposing her own state-wide ban of the bags, H-5403.  

"With Narragansett Bay, hundreds of miles of coastline, dozens of islands, and hundreds of bodies of water including rivers, ponds, and lakes, Rhode Island faces a real threat from plastic pollution. Single-use plastic checkout bags are a primary source of this pollution, littering Rhode Island's neighborhoods, parks, and roadsides, as well as aquatic and coastal environments, posing a direct threat to wildlife and accumulating in waterways. A ban on these plastic bags is the most effective way to eliminate this source of pollution," Cimini's bill reads. 

Cimini's ban is modeled on the Barrington ban, according to a report by EcoRI.org, and would start January 2014 for large retailers and January 2015 for small retailers. 

The ban applies to plastic bags at checkout lines. Dry cleaning plastic bags and bags that hold produce, deli meat and flowers would be exempt. Fines range from $150 to $300 dollars. The state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) would oversee the ban. Retailers will be allowed to charge 10 cents per bag for recyclable paper bags.

Locally, a ban would apply to stores like Shaw's on Diamond Hill Road, which uses plastic bags at their checkout lines. The store also uses reuseable bags and recyclable paper bags. 

Steve Sylven, external communications manager at Shaw's, said they'd prefer a state-wide ban. "Shaw’s is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainable operations, which includes reducing the use of single-use carry out bags from our stores and encouraging reusable bag use.  In general, we support efforts to ban single use carry out bags and prefer the proposals should be done at the state level," Sylven said. 

"We don’t generally support local bans because they can be confusing to customers who shop at more than one of our locations.  It can also be a competitive issue, where we see customers simply cross over to the next town to shop," Sylven added. 

Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRCC) opposes Cimini's ban, EcoRI.org reports, because it would end the state's bag recycling program, ReStore.

What do you think about a statewide ban? What about a plastic bag ban in Woonsocket? Tell us in the comments.

Dean Kamen Beringer March 01, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Even if this had nothing to do with the environment I would choose using my own reusable bags.They're easier to carry,the handles on mine are comfortable and you can put a lot more in them.As for harmful bacteria,trust me it all over the grocery stores and in most home kitchens already.Keep your bags and your home clean and you'll be way ahead of the cleanliness factors that exist in most retail environments.Using those cheap plastic bags to line your garbage cans is just inviting more bacteria into your home because they break open easily allowing all that nasty stuff to build up on everything they touch.I've been using reusable bags for 15 years (not the same ones mind you) and have never looked back.Why are we even waiting for another study to implement this ban statewide ? Oh,that's right.We have to do everything the hard way to satisfy the masses who can't be bothered to think about any positive change or long term solution that causes them even the slightest inconvenience.
Still Hope March 01, 2013 at 03:02 PM
I kill more squirrels with my car than plastic bags ever will. I'm a danger to the environment. I'm also an eye sore. You can sometimes find me up in a tree. I am not easily recycled. I am, however, very convenient. I can carry lots of things at once and I can be used for many different purposes. I plan to stick around for many decades to come. Please do not ban me also :(
Still Hope March 01, 2013 at 03:43 PM
So, on a more serious note. WAY too much misinformation in this forum. Disposable plastics have been redesigned in recent years. The packaging industry is moving to plastics made using corn by products. The newest iterations are biodegradable and generally have a 6mo shelf life. The problem is since they decompose, you cannot use them for the food industry. However, for all other retail, it is a great solution. You can currently see these types of packaging if you've bought Ugg boots in the last couple years. So, banning a useful product rather than modification deprives that product of positive progress. If you smash your face on your steering wheel, you don't ban the car, you invent airbags. Don't ban bags, fix them. As for paper bags: yes they come from trees. They are grown on tree farms. Just as corn is grown on corn farms. No wildlife is murdered. No ecosystem is compromised. The ozone layer isn't destroyed. The trees are planted, grown, harvested, and replanted every few years. Depending on the type of paper, the trees can take from 6mo to 6yrs to grow. The trees you see on TV being raped from rainforest are for lumber. If you've ever built a house are an addition, you have murdered the Earth a little bit. Bags, not so evil.
Tristan March 26, 2013 at 11:50 AM
I don't know Hope. There is a big concern about the fact that no matter how you design plastic, if its made from petroleum, it's not going to biodegrade for 200+ years. Every time we use a plastic bag, we’re leaving behind a small legacy of waste for future generations. As the polyethylene breaks down, toxic substances can leach into the soil and enter the food chain. The problems with plastic are so disproportionate to the benefit, a benefit which is negligible at best. Paper biodegrades. Although there might be the possibility of corn-based plastic (which i do not know about) you can't argue that such innovations are an exception, not the norm. Because our normal behavior regarding commercial transactions is so harmful to the environment, the food chain, and pretty much everything, if we were smart, we'd stop using single-use plastic bags. Check out: www.banbags.org/pb/index.html www.facebook.com/BanBagsinMA Be well!
English first March 26, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Use fabric bags. They are strong, they have handles and they are reusable. They don't pollute the environment and we don't have to cut down trees.Stop the argument.


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