About the Initiative

The City of Newport recognizes that single-use plastic bags greatly impact our community by creating litter on our roadways, polluting the harbor and endangering wildlife. Used for an average of only 12 minutes, plastics remain in the environment forever. Since 2013, Clean Ocean Access has removed 11,766 single-use plastic bags from our shoreline. In Rhode Island, the potential for plastics to contaminate and degrade the fishing industry could affect a $40 million industry. It is time that we make a change.

The Newport Re·Uses campaign combines an ordinance with an educational program to remove single-use plastic bags from our businesses, streets, beaches and homes. Other communities have enacted similar ordinances and educational outreach programs and have seen great success. Barrington, Rhode Island passed their ordinance in September 2012 which resulted in an overwhelming number of shoppers who now bring their own reusable bags. This not only decreases the litter on roadways and waterways but also helps to preserve the beauty of the city. Newport is dependent on a clean harbor and beaches. This campaign will provide further leadership in environmental health and sustainability in hopes that our residents and businesses will voluntarily adjust to the ordinance. Help us in protecting the things we love.

View the Ordinance Here

How to Get Involved

Newport Re•Uses is about more than plastic bags. We want to work together with residents and businesses towards a cleaner, greener Newport. This includes working to encourage the use of reusable bags, bottles, takeout containers and more. If you would like the Newport Re·Uses Team to come speak to your employees, business association, neighborhood association or other group, please email us.

Newport Re·Uses is also looking to partner with businesses or organizations that would like to offer reusable bags to residents and customers. If you are interested in such a partnership, please email us.

Media Center

Frequently Asked Questions

The City of Newport is engaging with the community in efforts to make a smooth transition to the new plastic bag ordinance. This will include reaching out to and partnering with residents, local shops and stores, elementary, middle and high school students, college and universities, farmers markets, food pantries and nonprofit organizations. In addition, the Newport Re·Uses Team will appear at many local events to speak about the City’s efforts. We will update our calendar of events frequently, so please check back. If you have an event or meeting you would like us to visit, please email us.

Calendar of Events

general facts

  • What is the problem with plastic bags?

    Single-use plastic bags impact our community by creating litter on our roadways, polluting the harbor and endangering wildlife. Used for an average of only 12 minutes, plastics remain in the environment forever. Since 2013, Clean Ocean Access has removed 11,766 single-use plastic bags from our shoreline. In Rhode Island, the potential for plastics to contaminate and degrade the fishing industry could affect a $40 million industry.

  • What is the link between human health and plastic litter?

    Plastic particles carry toxins such as PCBs, DDT, and dioxins – all cancer causing chemicals. Plastics do not biodegrade. Instead, sunlight breaks plastic into tiny fragments that enter our soil, harbor, and drinking water.

  • What is the link between animal health and plastic litter?

    Plastics kill wildlife through ingestion or entanglement.

  • Why does Newport need an ordinance instead of simply encouraging people to change their behavior?

    We need to do both! The Newport Re⋅Uses campaign combines an ordinance with an educational program. This beautiful city is dependent on a clean harbor and beaches; therefore, it makes sense that Newport provide leadership in environmental health and sustainability. Enforcement begins November 1, 2017.

  • Will this ordinance really work?

    Yes! Communities that have enacted similar ordinances - along with educational outreach - have seen an increase in the numbers of shoppers who bring reusable bags, resulting in a decrease in the litter on roads and waterways. Barrington, Rhode Island passed a similar ordinance in September 2012. Residents and businesses quickly adjusted to the change.

  • Reusable bags eventually become worn out and end up in the landfill so what is the point?

    Reusable bags eventually become trash; however, one reusable bag can hold 2-3 times more than a single-use plastic bag, and one reusable bag can be used hundreds of times. For every reusable bag, we eliminate at least 500 single-use bags from our environment.

  • Are single-use plastic bags recyclable?

    Single-use plastic bags are not recyclable at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center (RIRRC). They jam machines halting recycling production and creating physical hazards for RIRRC workers. Rhode Island requires retailers to provide receptacles for plastic bag collection. Nationally, 3% of single-use plastic bags are returned to grocery stores. The data is unclear as to how much of that material is actually recycled.
    Promotion of Paper Bag Usage.

  • What about plastic bags that are labeled “biodegradable” or “compostable”?

    No legal standards exist for the terms “biodegradable” or “compostable.” Many products are advertised as “compostable” but can only be broken down by industrial machinery.

  • Do reusable bags become contaminated with bacteria after carrying meats and other food?

    It is important to clean reusable bags to protect your health. Surfaces that come in contact with raw meats may be contaminated with bacteria. Reusable fabric bags can be laundered along with the rest of your clothes. “Barrier bags” that protect meat and produce from other grocery items are allowed under the ordinance.

resident facts

business facts

Tips for Business Owners

Reusable bags have become a low-cost and sustainable marketing tool for major retailers, carrying the business logo wherever the bag goes. Carrying a reusable bag supports ‘word of mouth’ marketing for businesses that helps to encourage positive change in behavior.

  1. Offer reusable bags at your cost per bag and establish threshold for a sale amount where your customer receives the bag for free. For instance, customers who spend $100 would receive their purchase in a reusable bag; sales under that threshold could be charged a small fee for the reusable bag.
  2. Connect with other merchants in your neighborhood to order large quantities of reusable bags to help lower the cost per bag. This is an especially viable option for retail and neighborhood associations.
  3. Offer a small discount or other incentive to customers who remember to bring their bags.
  4. Post the Newport Re·Uses logo on your business website to let customers know about your policy ahead of time and to advertise your support for the environment.

Tips for Residents

Newport Re·Uses is a community effort. We encourage residents to motivate each other in making this important transition. Newport Re·Uses is exploring partnerships to put bags in the hands of residents. Through generous donations, the city plans to distribute high-quality reusable bags at various locations.

  1. Keep reusable bags in your vehicle, purse, backpack, or by your front door.
  2. If walking, use a collapsible cart to carry your groceries home from the store.
  3. Wash your bags with your laundry.
  4. Make merchants aware of your support in their efforts to eliminate single-use plastics.
  5. Get outside and connect with nature and let the good feeling of our clean island environment build a wave of momentum to protect the environment for future generations.
  6. And don’t forget to carry a reusable water bottle as well!