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Rhode Island Retailers Readying For Reusable Bag Requirement

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Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 10:44 am

Retailers in Rhode Island are preparing for a major change in disposable plastics in the state. On May 27, Gov. Daniel McKee signed the Plastic Waste Reduction Act, according to a post on the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association’s website. 

The act will take effect one year after the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management issues regulations for its enforcement or on Jan. 1, 2024, whichever comes first. 

The measure is designed to reduce retailers’ use of plastic bags by requiring them to have recyclable or reusable bags and providing penalties for violations. 

Also, when applicable, products used for delivery or larger orders that would normally require a box must be delivered in recyclable cardboard boxes. They must be non-waxed cardboard or paper products, according to the measure. 

Retailers will be required to provide customers with recyclable paper bags made of 100 percent recyclable material. However, this does not include paper carryout bags in restaurants. There was no distinction in the law for businesses with grab-and-go or full-service delis.

The RIFDA also is monitoring a bill moving through the state’s house that may help establish clearer foodservice mandates. 

The Disposable Food Service Containers Act would “prohibit a covered establishment from preparing, selling, processing or providing food or beverages in or on a disposable foodservice container that is composed in whole or in part of polystyrene foam,” according to RIFDA website. The bill has been sent to committee for “further study.”

According to a report from The Providence Journal, the state legislature has been attempting to pass a similar bill since 2013. Many municipalities in the state already have a version of the bag ban in place.

Per the article, “With bans in effect in 17 cities and towns in Rhode Island, including Newport, Providence and Cranston, more than half the state’s population is already subject to restrictions on the types of bags they use in checkout lines.”

The state ban on plastics comes about a year after McKee signed the 2021 Act on Climate, which sets mandatory, enforceable climate emissions reduction goals across the state. The act aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

For more information, visit rifda.com.

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