PROVIDENCE – Providence City Council Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan, D-Ward 5, introduced an ordinance on Thursday that would reduce the use of single-use plastic bags in the city.
The ordinance would exempt certain types of bags such as dry-cleaning bags, laundry bags and bags used to wrap or contain foods or to maintain moisture.
The ordinance is modeled on bag-policies passed in other cities, but most directly reflects an ordinance recently passed in Boston, Ryan said.
“The production, use and disposal of single-use plastic bags have significant adverse impacts on the environment and are a serious economic burden to the City’s solid waste disposal and single-stream recycling system,” said Ryan in a statement. “Reducing single-use plastic bags will help to curb litter on our streets and waterways, protect the marine environment, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. … The economic reasons are also significant as the City will save at least $1 Million each year by removing this common contaminant to our recycling system. This initiative will also help to remove 95 million single-use bags annually from our landfill.”
If passed, the ordinance would not go into effect for 12 months to allow retailers to use their stock and come into compliance. Retailers would also be allowed to sell reusable plastic bags and retain the cost.
As the ordinance was introduced, retailers who may have a hardship – as determined by the director of the Office of Sustainability – would be eligible for an exemption.
The ordinance came after meetings with Providence’s Zero Waste Group and the Office of Sustainability.