End of Single-Use Plastics in Providence

An Earth Day Surprise

Tonight the Providence City Council passed the Retail Plastic Bag Reduction Act which will now be sent to Mayor Jorge O. Elorza for his signature.


I started working on this legislative initiative as a freshman Councilwoman, and that it receives its final passage today of all days is serendipitous,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, Councilwoman – Ward Five. “Tonight’s meeting falling on Earth Day was not planned by the Council, but it seems very fitting that today we celebrate the Earth and renew our dedication to the fight for its care in our own way with the passage of this legislation.”

“This is not a silver bullet, but it is a big first-step in making Providence a cleaner and greener city for all to enjoy. We have some big hurdles ahead of us, including the projected closure of the Johnston Landfill in 15-years and the projected closing of the Tiverton Landfill on November 30, 2020. This is a tipping point for us as a city and a state. I urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to work to mitigate the issues surrounding single-use plastics so that we can address these issues head-on. Plastics not only pollute or waterways and our natural areas, but there are several studies that show that plastics can lead to serious health issues. The time is now for us to act. Happy Earth Day!”

Majority Leader, Ward 5 - Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan


Highlights of the Ordinance:

  • All checkout bags must be designed for multiple reuse or be paper. If the checkout bag is plastic, it must be made from 100% recycled plastic. Paper bags must be 100% recyclable and made from at least 40% recycled paper.

  • It exempts certain types of plastic bags such as dry cleaning or laundry bags, bags used to wrap or contain frozen foods or prevent or contain moisture, etc.

  • It gives six-months from passage for businesses to become compliant allowing time for education/outreach and for retailers to use existing stock.

  • It provides an exemption for retailers who may have a hardship determined by the Director of the Office of Sustainability. And provides a warning prior to any fine for non-compliant retailers.

Read the full Press Release here on the City Council Web site →