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Barrington, Rhode Island May Ban Plastic Bags

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State’s First Plastic Bag Ban | Plastic Bag Ban Report
Barrington, Rhode Island, July 30, 2012 (PBBR) – Tonight, the Barrington Town Council will discuss and act on a Plastic Bag Reduction Initiative. Joseph Roberts of the town’s Conservation Commission studied the issue of plastic bags in Barrington and drafted the ordinance. He will present his study tonight to the Town Council.

If Council passes the proposed initiative, it would be the first plastic bag ban in the state of Rhode Island. Barrington is a small town in Bristol County, Rhode Island on the Narragansett Bay.

The Barrington Conservation Commission is recommending an ordinance banning plastic bags to include:

  • All Retailers: No retail sales establishment shall make available any plastic checkout bag at the point-of-sale
  • Retailers make reusable bags available for purchase at checkout
  • Retailers may impose a fee of not more than five cents per recyclable paper bag

The purpose of the ordinance is to ban the use of point-of-sale checkout plastic bags and encourage the use of reusable checkout bags to remove a major source of pollutants of land and water.

Plastic Bag Ordinance Allowed By State
Council has already checked into the legality of an ordinance regulating plastic bags and received an opinion on July 25th.

Michael A. Ursillo, Town Solicitor stated, “We have reviewed the legality of imposing a plastic bag ban within the Town of Barrington. Based upon our review of the Rhode Island Constitution, specifically Article 13, Section 1 on Home Rule, along with pertinent case law, we have concluded that, if the Council so desires, it may impose a plastic bag ban.”

Town Support
On Friday morning, public comments in support of a ban on plastic checkout bags in Barrington were delivered to Barrington’s Town Hall: a letter signed by fourteen Barrington businesses endorsing the town’s proposed plastic bag ban, in addition to three hundred and forty postcard petitions signed by Barrington residents. Town Council President June Speakman and Town Manager Peter DeAngelis received the comments, delivered by the citizen-based advocacy group Environment Rhode Island.

“The public voice in Barrington is clear,” said Channing Jones, associate with Environment Rhode Island. “Both businesses and residents in Barrington understand that, to protect the Bay for ourselves and future generations, we need to stop using disposable plastic grocery bags.”

The letter from local businesses reads: “Everyone in Rhode Island wants a more beautiful state and a healthier Narragansett Bay, and we are writing to express our support for a ban on single-use plastic checkout bags here in Barrington.”

Plastic bags are one of the most commonly found types of marine debris in Rhode Island coastal cleanups. When plastic bags enter the marine environment, they pose a direct threat to wildlife and threaten to remain there for hundreds of years or more. Although plastic never biodegrades, as plastic in the water slowly photodegrades into increasingly small fragments, it picks up toxic pollutants, posing a threat to filter feeders such as clams.

“Nothing we use for just five minutes should fill our waterways with trash and threaten the wildlife we treasure and depend on” the letter adds. “Barrington and Rhode Island can be a leaders for the environment and Narragansett Bay by getting rid of plastic bags.”

Over three hundred postcard petitions from Barrington residents were delivered along with the letter from local businesses. The petitions were fashioned into shapes of reusable bags.

“Both businesses and residents in Barrington understand,” said Jones. “To protect the Bay for ourselves and future generations, we need to stop using disposable plastic shopping bags.”

Copyright © 2012 Plastic Bag Ban Report. All Rights Reserved.

Cover photo: Conservation Commission of the Town of Barrington. Credit: Town of Barrington. Committee Members: Cynthia Fuller, Chairwoman; Edward W. Ionata, Vice Chair ; David Boyes, Sec/Treas; Douglas W. Materne; Leslie Weeden; Joseph Roberts