Providence City Council considers plastic bag ordinance

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Plastic bags may soon be a thing of the past in Rhode Island’s capital city.

Providence City Council Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan proposed an ordinance Wednesday night that, if passed, would dramatically decrease single-use plastic bags in the city, as well as encourage more environmentally-friendly options.

Single-use bags would still be available to shoppers, but would carry a fee to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags from home.

Ryan named several potential benefits of the ordinance, including reduced litter on streets and in waterways, protecting local marine life, and reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, Ryan believes the ordinance could save the city at least $1 million per year and remove 95 million single-use bags per year from Rhode Island’s landfill.

Certain exceptions to the rule include dry cleaning and laundry bags, as well as bags used with frozen foods.

The ordinance allows retailers to keep the fee charged per bag. Large retailers which have already implemented bag fees will often charge as little as 25 cents per bag.

Providence’s Office of Sustainability and the City’s Zero Waste Group both contributed to the proposed ordinance.

Similar ordinances have been passed in Newport and 61 communities in Massachusetts, including Boston.