Barrington Debates Changing Its Bag Ban

Shaw’s and CVS continue to use loophole to handout plastic shopping bags


Town Council member Ann Strong, who opposes a bag ban, says all non-recyclable items should then be pulled from store shelves. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

BARRINGTON, R.I. — Rhode Island’s first and only community with a bag ban came close to closing a loophole in its law, but in the end decided to wait a month to make sure the ordinance prevented retailers from finding ways to skirt the rule, again.

After more than an hour of debate at its Oct. 5 meeting, which featured overwhelming support from the public, it seemed the Town Council had the three votes needed to exclude thicker plastic bags that Shaw’s and CVS began offering this year.

Two council members, Stephen Primiano and Ann Strong, were dead set against the measure, calling the ban a feel-good vote that wouldn’t have an impact and was essentially a waste of time.

“I hate that kind of legislation,” Strong said. She held up several items sold at Shaw’s that didn’t seem recyclable, such as a foam egg carton, and suggested the store “take everything off the shelves that’s not recyclable.”

“The town doesn’t need to get involved in everyone’s daily lives,” Primiano said.

Many residents responded by saying the bag ban was a small step in a national movement to ban plastic bags. “It’s just our chance to step it sooner,” Kim Jacobs said. “There’s no reason not to do this.”

Barrington became the first municipality in the state to enact a bag ban, in 2012. The ban included a two-year sunset provision. In June 2014 the Town Council made the ban permanent.

Council vice president Kate Weymouth said no local business has complained to her since the ban passed.

A plastic sales representative for the German company that provides the new thicker bag, gave a 6-minute presentation on the virtues of the bag. A representative from the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association also spoke in favor of plastic bags.

The next hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Nov. 12.


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  1. Someone is getting a kick-back on the use of plastic bags…gotta follow the money.

    We lived without plastic bags for generations. Plastic doesn’t offer significant improvement but does increase wayside litter and the amount of solid waste that goes into our landfills.

    And what costs the stores more? Paper or Plastic? Something doesn’t add up. Barrington. Please don’t give up the fight to eliminate plastic.

  2. Apparently to the food retailers and plastics industry there aren’t enough bags in the ocean, there aren’t enough sea creatures strangling on them, there isn’t enough litter blowing in the trees.
    Those 2 council people who hate such legislation will be at home in my town (North Providence) where none of the supermarkets give an incentive to recycle or reuse bags, and there is little litter control, so they should feel right at home.

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