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Barrington, RI Plastic Bag Ban Considered


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BARRINGTON, R.I. (AP) — Answering the question ‘paper or plastic’ could get a lot easier in one Rhode Island town if local leaders support a call to ban plastic shopping bags.

Hundreds of residents and more than a dozen business owners in Barrington are pushing to scrap the sacks, which they say take up valuable landfill space and litter streets, streams and shorelines. But critics — including an alliance of plastic bag manufacturers — say prohibiting the ubiquitous bags would only reduce consumers’ options while doing nothing to help the environment.

The Barrington Town Council voted on Monday to direct the town’s solicitor to draft a proposed ban. The move follows a recommendation by the town’s Conservation Commission to prohibit plastic shopping bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bag. Under that recommendation, shoppers could also purchase paper bags for 5 cents each.

“It wouldn’t be a big deal to me,” said Linda Alves, who was shopping for home office supplies Wednesday in Barrington, an affluent town 20 minutes from Providence. Alves opened the trunk of her car and pulled out two reusable bags. “I have so many of these things, who needs the plastic?”

San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic shopping bags back in 2007. Several cities have followed, including Los Angeles and Seattle. The bags are banned throughout Hawaii. Westport, Conn. is the only New England community with such a ban.

“It’s a matter of changing habits, and that’s not always easy,” said Jonathan Cunitz, a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting and an advocate for the ban, which went into effect in 2009. “But people are now more conscious of the environment and we don’t see plastic bags on the street or on our waterfront.”

But an organization founded by plastics manufacturers to fight proposed bans argues that outlawing the bags could threaten more than 30,000 plastic bag manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Donna Dempsey, spokeswoman for the Washington D.C.-based American Progressive Bag Alliance, said the plastic bag has gotten a bad rap.


Banned! Los Angeles Nation’s Largest City to Prohibit Plastic Bags

Courtesy of Organic Authority

Plastic bags

The highly anticipated decision by the city of Los Angeles on whether or not to ban the single use plastic bag from retail stores and restaurants was announced last Wednesday, with an overwhelming 13 to 1 vote in favor of the ban, making Los Angeles the nation’s largest city to prohibit plastic bags and the state’s 48th city overall, joining San Francisco, San Jose and Long Beach.

Experts estimate that by keeping the nearly 3 billion plastic bags currently used in the city of Los Angeles out of landfills, residents will also experience fewer environmental pollutants and cleaner oceans. But not everyone agrees. Representatives of plastic bag manufacturing plants suggest the measure could cost many Los Angeles residents their jobs. The 1 nay vote, issued by Councilman Bernard Parks, represents his concern over legal challenges and health concerns over possible food contamination from reusable bags.

Large markets and stores within Los Angeles will have six months and smaller stores will have to the end of 2012 to phase out the plastic bags. This does not count against plastic bags used for produce and bulk items. The same measure also aims to decrease the use of paper bags, as well, which will still be allowed as an option, but stores and restaurants will be required to charge a ten-cent surcharge per bag.

Last year, the county of Los Angeles enforced a ban on plastic bags, which has already taken effect in unincorporated areas of the county, but the measure has been challenged in court.

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