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Sarah R. Bratko, Esq.
Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel
401-223-1120, ext. 115
Efforts to make Rhode Island the first state with a bag ban recently took a step forward. For the second straight year, Rep. Maria Cimini, D-Providence, has sponsored the Plastic Waste Reduction Act, a bill that would ban retailers from offering most checkout plastic bags. The ban would apply to plastic bags offered at point of sale, including take-out food. The ban doesn't apply to produce and frozen-food bags, dry-cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves or bags bigger than 28 by 36 inches. This year's bill omits a fee on paper checkout bags. A first-time violation would result in a written warning from local police or other authority. A second violation would invoke a $150 fine and $300 for subsequent violations. Channing Jones, campaign director with Environment Rhode Island, led the signature drive through door-to-door canvassing and an online petition. This year, Jones submitted a petition to lawmakers with another 10,000 signatures from Rhode Island supporters of such a ban. Environment Rhode Island was instrumental in helping pass a two-year bag ban in Barrington, which began in 2013. About 100 communities in the United States have some form of restrictions on plastic checkout bags.