Tonight, City Council Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan’s (Ward 5) ordinance that calls for a reduction of single-use plastic bags and encourages the use of reusable checkout bags at retail establishments throughout the City has passed its second and final vote. This ordinance addresses significant environmental and economic concerns facing the City and is modeled after those successfully passed in other municipalities and is most similar to the one recently passed in Boston.
Ryan, the lead sponsor of the ordinance said, “I’m excited to begin the education and outreach component of the ordinance. We’ll be partnering with the City’s Zero Waste Group and the City’s Office of Sustainability to educate residents on the impacts that plastic single-use bags have on our environment, and how the ordinance will be implemented over the course of the next year. During this next phase before the ordinance goes into effect we’ll work to ensure that all residents are prepared, and those that need reusable bags will have the opportunity to get them at little or no cost.”
The production, use, and disposal of single-use plastic bags have significant adverse impacts on the environment and are a serious economic burden to the City’s solid waste disposal and single-stream recycling systems. Reducing single-use plastic bags will help to curb litter on our streets and waterways, protect the marine environment, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ryan also stated, “The economic reasons are also significant as the City will save at least $1 Million each year by removing this common contaminant to our recycling system. This initiative will also help to remove 95 million single-use bags annually from our landfill.”
Highlights of the Ordinance Include:
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 allows retailers to retain the cost of reusable bags sold to customers
(Note: large chain retailers are currently selling reusable bags for as little as .25 cents). Retailers spend over $3.9M on bags annually.)
Countless studies, beginning with Ireland in 2002, have shown that adding a modest fee for bags reduces the use of single-use bags by more than 90%.
It gives 12 months from passage 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.
The Ordinance is the product of numerous meetings with the City’s Zero Waste Group and the City’s Office of Sustainability. This energetic group is working on an implementation plan and is committed to a strong grassroots education and outreach campaign for both consumers and retailers.
Ryan was joined by the following councilors who cosponsored the ordinance; Council President David A. Salvatore, Majority Leader John J. Igliozzi, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Terrance Hassett, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr., Deputy Majority Leader Wilbur Jennings Jr., Councilman Seth Yurdin, Councilman Luis A. Aponte, Councilman Bryan Principe, Councilman Michael Correia and Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune.
Some facts on the environmental impacts of single-use plastic bags provided by Upstream Policy:
Single-use plastic bags are used on average for 12 minutes and live for about 1K years.
Single-use plastic bag production produces over 2.5K metric tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) annually and contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Single-use plastic bags end up in the ocean, breaking down into smaller pieces called microplastics, Clean Water Action found that the Providence River had the highest concentration of these microplastics in the Bay.
It’s estimated that over 95M plastic bags are used annually in Providence.
Single-use plastic bags account for roughly 60 tons of garbage.
Single-use plastic bags are NOT recyclable in our single stream RIRRC’s recycling facility.
Single-use plastic bags are the cause of contamination of our recycling bins and compromise our recycling program.
Providence City Councilman Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), will be introducing a resolution at the March 15 City Council meeting asking the City to redirect a portion of the revenue generated from the 11 Speed Cameras deployed throughout the city to go towards school safety initiatives.
“I’m supportive of the City’s installation of the speed cameras,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. “Yet, I want us to ensure that we are being thoughtful about proper signage and ensuring that the tickets are not overly burdensome for our constituents. With that said, these cameras are placed around our schools, and with the City bringing in over $600K in revenues it would be a great opportunity to redirect some of those funds for school safety initiatives.”
The City plans to install a total of 15 cameras across the city. Currently, 11 have been deployed, and all are operational.
Council President David A. Salvatore, joined by all members of the City Council, will introduce a resolution calling for a full review of the city’s portable speed enforcement camera program.
“We have heard from our constituents regarding their valid concerns related to aggressive driving throughout our city. The goal of the portable speed enforcement camera program is to make Providence safer, and I fully support its intended use as a traffic-calming measure and to deter speeding in school zones. However, this should not be construed as a money-making operation for the city,” said Council President David A. Salvatore. “We have a responsibility to our residents and visitors that public safety measures are implemented fairly, openly and without causing unreasonable hardship.”
Council President Salvatore and members of the City Council will review the portable speed enforcement camera program as well as its related components, including but not limited to the notification process and schedule of fines, fine amount, speed camera hours of operation, signage, and education rollout.
Providence City Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) along with the community group, SISTA FIRE RI, will be hosting a celebration in honor of International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Noon. The event will take place in The Aldermen’s Chamber on the third floor of City Hall. Rhode Island’s Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea will serve as the keynote speaker.
“I’m thrilled to be partnering with SISTA FIRE to bring the community together to celebrate International Women’s Day,” stated Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris. “Our goal is to bring women and men together for a discussion on the importance of the role women play in our society. It’s my hope that by sharing stories of our achievements and our failures that we can all learn from our unique experiences.”
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The day is celebrated annually on March 8.
Providence City Councilwoman Sabina Matos (Ward 15), will be introducing a resolution at the March 15 City Council meeting asking the City to delay any further speed camera installations until an educational campaign can take place.
“I’ve heard from countless constituents that they had no warning that these speed cameras were being installed,” stated Sabina Matos, Council President Pro Tempore. “After many conversations with concerned constituents, it was apparent that there was not enough education and outreach to alert the community about how these cameras work, their sensitivity, and the high cost of the tickets. I’m hopeful that the City will take a step-back and institute better and more signage, and implement an outreach component that explains the cameras and how they work.”
Along with Councilwoman Matos the resolution will be co-sponsored by Councilman Luis A. Aponte (Ward 10), Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilman Bryan Principe (Ward 13), and Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9).
The City plans to install a total of 15 cameras across the city. Currently, 11 have been deployed, and all will be operational as of Monday, March 5, 2018.