Rhode Island’s Plastic Bag Ban Takes Effect on Jan 1, 2024

The Plastic Waste Reduction Act, legislation passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly in the 2022 session and signed into law by Governor Dan McKee, is set to come into force on Jan. 1, 2024. This legislation prohibits retail establishments from furnishing customers with single-use plastic bags at the point of sale. Notably, 18 out of 39 Rhode Island communities have already implemented analogous bans on plastic bags, ensuring a consistent legal standard throughout the state. 

Authored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and Representative Carol Hagan McEntee, the law mandated the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and formulate regulations for its implementation. Following a public hearing on the regulations held on Sept. 26, with the public comment period concluding on Oct. 1, DEM actively reached out to industry stakeholders and businesses to reinforce awareness of the impending regulations.

As the holiday shopping season is in full swing, DEM urges consumers to contribute to the reduction of litter and waste by adopting the habit of carrying their reusable bags when shopping. This action aligns with the broader goal of mitigating the adverse impacts of single-use plastics on Rhode Island’s environment. To enhance the likelihood of remembering reusable bags, shoppers are encouraged to store them conveniently, be it in their car trunks or near entrances.

“Eliminating the retail distribution of single-use plastic bags helps prevent litter and plastic debris from entering Narragansett Bay and our local waters, which are central to the Ocean State’s environment, way of life, and economy,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “A more sustainable world starts with all of us, and DEM remains committed to promoting sustainability throughout our programs and operations. We continue to develop a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan for sustainable materials management.”

“From microplastics in our waters to litter on our streets, the negative impacts of plastic pollution are easily seen,” said Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio. “Beyond the many environmental and social benefits of reducing reliance on single-use plastic bags, the Plastic Waste Reduction Act will help save money by reducing the significant recycling and disposal issues that plastic bags pose.”

“The Plastic Waste Reduction Act will reduce the amount of single use plastic bags that end up in the landfill, in our local waters, and as litter in our communities,” said Representative Carol Hagan McEntee. “Rhode Islanders can make a tangible difference in reducing plastic pollution by reminding their family, friends, and neighbors to bring their reusable bags whenever they shop.”




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