Middletown Becomes Third RI Community To Ban Plastic Bags

May 2, 2017

Middletown is the third community in Rhode Island to ban plastic bags in an effort to protect marine life.

The Middletown Town Council unanimously agreed to pass the ordinance yesterday. Robert Sylvia, president of the Town Council, said this ordinance will benefit sea turtles in particular because they're confusing plastic bags with food. 

“(Sea turtles) see (plastic bags) in the water, they perceive them to be jellyfish, they digest them, and it’s not a jellyfish and it kills them," Sylvia said. 

A study from 2015 found more than half of the world's sea turtles have eaten plastic. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which works to protect fish and their habitats, reported marine pollution has contributed to sea turtles becoming an endangered species.

Sylvia said other benefits of the ban include cutting down on costs cleaning up the bags and getting rid of the eyesores the bags create throughout the community. 

Newport passed a plastic bag ban earlier this year in March. Barrington passed one in 2012. Middletown's ban goes into effect Nov. 1. 

State lawmakers have introduced bills for several years to ban plastic bags throughout the entire state. None of the bills have been passed.