By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The Town Council meets Tuesday in regular session and the agenda includes a draft plastic bag ordinance that would require retail outlets to discontinue the use of the ubiquitous single-use plastic bags found at most grocery, convenience and drug stores. The action comes following the General Assembly’s failure to pass such legislation earlier this year.

According to the draft ordinance, the new law is designed to “improve the environment … and the health, safety, and welfare of its residents by reducing the number of plastic and paper bags being used and by encouraging reusable carryout bags….”

Many plastic bags would still be allowed, including smaller bags used at grocery stories for produce or at hardware stores for small items. Also exempt: plastic bags over flowers or potted plants and drying cleaning bags.

The bag carousel at a Dave’s Market in North Kingstown.

Many statewide retailers have already made the transition away from plastic bag use at checkout since 11 Rhode Island cities and towns have enacted outlawed such bags. The first ban was enacted by Barrington, in 2012. North Kingstown implemented a ban in January. The other municipalities with bans are Bristol, Jamestown, Middletown, New Shoreham, Newport, Portsmouth, Providence, South Kingstown, and Warren.

Any new town law must be “read” three times, i.e. the Town Council must consider it during at least three meetings. Tuesday night’s reading will be the first.

Also on the agenda, the council will continue discussion on a new municipal fire alarm system and the approval of $169,950 to resurface town tennis courts and $119,800 for outdoor fitness equipment at Fry Brook Park.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall. Find the full agenda (including a link the draft plastic ban ordinance) here.


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