January 30, 2020-
PROVIDENCE — Dave McLaughlin of Clean Ocean Access put it best when he described the latest bill for a statewide ban on plastic shopping bags: “It’s like a test. You want a 98 but you’ll take a 91,” he said after a Jan. 29 hearing for a Senate bill that drew near uniform support from environmental groups. McLaughlin and others from local environmental organizations were pleased that the legislation included the so-called “stitched-handles provision” that prevents retailers from substituting thick plastic bags for the traditional thin-film retail bags and calling them reusable.
The Plastic Waste Reduction Act doesn’t impose a fee on paper bags and contains a uniformity provision, or preemption clause, that prevents communities from enacting stricter bans in place of the state mandate. Last year, the lack of a fee and, to a greater extent, the inclusion of a preemption clause soured groups such as Clean Water Action, the Conservation Law Foundation, and Clean Ocean Access and members of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Task Force to Tackle Plastics, an initiative that failed to secure any directives last year.