Barrington Town Council votes to draft ordinance to ban plastic bags

Media Contacts
Channing Jones

John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment Rhode Island

Barrington, R.I. — On Monday evening, the Barrington Town Council voted 3 – 2 to draft an ordinance proposed by the Barrington Conservation Commission to ban the distribution of plastic shopping bags in the town. Once drafted, the ordinance will be introduced at a subsequent council meeting before a final vote. If enacted, the ordinance would ban the distribution of disposable plastic checkout bags at the point of sale.

“We applaud the town council’s decision to move forward with this initiative to protect the Bay and local waterways from plastic bag pollution,” said Channing Jones, Program Associate with citizen-based advocacy group Environment Rhode Island. “Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute the Bay for future generations.”

Plastic bags are among the most commonly found types of marine debris in Rhode Island coastal cleanups. When plastic bags enter the marine environment, they pose a direct threat to wildlife and threaten to remain there for hundreds of years or more. Although plastic never biodegrades, as plastic in the water slowly photodegrades into increasingly small fragments, it picks up toxic pollutants, posing a threat to filter feeders such as clams.

On Friday morning, public comments in support of a ban on plastic checkout bags in Barrington were delivered to Barrington’s Town Hall: a letter signed by fourteen Barrington businesses endorsing the town’s proposed plastic bag ban, in addition to three hundred and forty postcard petitions signed by Barrington residents. Town Council President June Speakman and Town Manager Peter DeAngelis received the comments.

“The public voice in Barrington is clear,” said Jones. “Both businesses and residents in Barrington understand that, to protect the Bay for ourselves and future generations, we need to stop using disposable plastic grocery bags.”

If the ordinance proceeds successfully through the legislative process, Barrington could be the second municipality in New England and the first in Rhode Island to enact such a ban.

“We are excited that the Town of Barrington is moving forward on this issue,” added Jones.