Beginning November 1st, Newport and Middletown become the second and third community in Rhode Island to institute a ban on single-use plastic bags.

On Wednesday, March 8th, Newport City Council voted 7-0 in favor of an ordinance that prohibits businesses from distributing the bags.

“Prohibiting the use of single-use plastic carryout bags is necessary to protect the environment and the public health, safety, and welfare of all residents and visitors.” the ordinance for Newport states under legislative findings and intent.


A single-use plastic carryout bag is defined in the resolution and ordinance as “a single-use plastic bag used by the customer at the point of sale for the purpose of removing products purchased from a business establishment. Single-use plastic carryout bags do not include plastic barrier bags, double-opening plastic bags, or plastic bags measuring larger than 28 inches by 36 inches.”

More than 100 municipalities across the nation have placed restrictions on the use of plastic bags in their communities, Barrington became the first community in Rhode Island to ban plastic bags on January 1st, 2013.

Clean Ocean Access has been working with officials in Portsmouth and Jamestown to implement similar bans on single-use plastic bags.

Newport Ordinance Enforcement; Violations and Penalties

According to the ordinance (and beginning on November 1, 2017), upon violation of the ordinance, businesses who violate shall be provided written notice ordering cessation of the violation. A notice shall be given to the Business Establishment owner or manager or may be served on the Business Establishment’s agent for service.

Following the written notice, a violation shall be subject to a fine of up to $1,000. For any violation of the provisions of this ordinance, the City Council may revoke any municipality issued license granted to the Business Establishment.

Newport Reuses

The City of Newport’s Newport Re·Uses campaign combines an ordinance with an educational program to remove single-use plastic bags from our businesses, streets, beaches and homes

Newport Re-Uses provides the following 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!”

Newport Re-Uses provides the following tips for businesses;

“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 a 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 incentives 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.”

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).