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Ordinance Would Ban Plastic Checkout Bags in Warren

The introduced ordinance would ban local businesses from using plastic checkout bags and would impose a fee on consumers who wished to bag their goods with paper bags from the store.

The following is a release from Environment Rhode Island.

On Tuesday evening, the Warren Town Council conducted a first reading of an ordinance to ban disposable plastic checkout bags in the town. The legislation could make Warren the first municipality in Rhode Island – and among the first in New England – to reduce litter and marine debris by enacting a bag ban.

"We need to keep plastic out of Narragansett Bay," said Channing Jones, associate with Environment Rhode Island, an environmental advocacy group with members in Warren. "Nothing we use for just five minutes should fill our waterways with trash and threaten the wildlife we treasure and depend on."

Plastic shopping bags, which have become ubiquitous over recent decades, are easily carried by wind into parks, rivers, and beaches. Once plastic bags enter the marine environment, they kill animals like birds, sea turtles, and whales that confuse the bags for food, causing them to starve or choke to death. Plastic also threatens fish and clams as it breaks into tiny fragments and absorbs toxic pollutants.

Because plastic does not biodegrade, scientists estimate it will remain in the environment for hundreds of years or more.

"Everyone hates plastic bags," said Jones. "Luckily, Warren can protect Narragansett Bay and be leader for the environment by becoming the first Rhode Island municipality to ban them."

At the reading for the ordinance, introduced by Councilman Davison Bolster, Environment Rhode Island presented an endorsement for a bag ban signed by six Warren businesses, as well as a petition signed by nearly fifty Warren residents. The proposed ordinance would ban disposable plastic checkout bags at the point of sale, and would place a mandatory fee on paper bags that would go to retailers to cover the extra cost of paper.

"By banning plastic checkout bags in Warren, we can eliminate this source of trash while encouraging responsible thought and efforts on the part of retailers and consumers and increasing the use of reusable consumer owned bags," said Lisa Wagenbach, volunteer for the Surfrider Foundation, an international foundation with Warren members dedicated to the health and preservation of oceans and coastlines.

Similar ordinances have been passed in dozens of municipalities along the West Coast and other parts of the United States. Entire nations such as Italy and China have also banned or regulated plastic bags.

"This is an opportunity for Warren to lead the way in Rhode Island on this issue," said Jones. "It's time for the Ocean State to protect its waters by joining the bag ban movement."

Editor's Note: With several Warren Town Councilors in opposition to some of the specific wording of the ordinance which would put "too many strict rules in place", the Council made a motion to continue the proposed ordinance to the next meeting to allow the Town Solicitor to research the topic further. To see the draft ordinance that was proposed during the meeting, view the PDF above.

Bob Venice April 12, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Let me get this right. The town has problems with livestock and fowl in residential neighborhoods The town still has not cleaned a lot of the sand from streets The town does not have enough money foor the schools The town does not keep up with the ballfields The town wants it's citizens to shovel town sidewalks The town has a parking problem The town has problems with illegal docks AND ALL THE TOWN COUCILM CAN CONCERN THEMSELFS WITH IS PLASTIC BAGS.
John Tattrie April 12, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Barney, The Town did not bring this forward, a young gentlman did. He petitioned the Council to be heard on "His" request or idea, what-ever you would like to call it. But yes, apparently this young ladd hasn't been paying much attention to his surroundings, because you are correct with your list of issues. This was most certainly something that I would not have put on a list for priority.....But if times were different I would most certainly give this kid a High five for positive thinking, he just has bad timing. Many more things need attention first.
Bob Venice April 13, 2012 at 12:24 AM
John, you seem to be right on top of every issue in town, and your remarks always seem to hit the bullseye. Please if you could, answer the following question. Doe's the Town Council ever answer anything the first time, or do they always wait for Tony Desisto to find out something first. It just seems to me that at every town meeting this man loves to put his two cents into everything, or as they say, he likes to hear himself talk. I respect all members of the Council, but I believe that they should not listen to him at times and vote.
Ray DeForge April 13, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Does the ban also include "garbage bags"? The article specified only "grocery bags", but the ordinance in the PDF was non-specific. Back in the day; when plastic did not exist, we put the trash in an old open-top oil drum, and 'lit it off'. when it was filled with burnt ash, we'd take it to the dump..... usually once every six months or so. Kinda dates me, huh??
John Tattrie April 13, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Your Question is a matter of perspective, My personal expeirience with Town government came from sitting on the planning board, 9 person board w/solicitor. Very similar, I feel very differently than the present Council, I personally would only use Tony as a last resort, but his job is to keep them from legal trouble....I guess the five of them respect his opinion in a great many topics.....Well after all thats what he gets paid for! But I think a great many things could probably be answered by any of them if they chose too......I guess I would be the odd ball out if I were sitting up there.....I suppose he is doing whats he's paid for. Legal issues & money are always the root of trouble....thats why those meetings always take so long.....:) Chuckle!

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