Providence, RI – Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced the leadership, composition, and first meeting of the Governor’s Task Force to Tackle Plastics. Established by the Tackling Plastics Executive Order signed by Governor Raimondo in July, the group will develop a host of options to reduce plastic pollution in Rhode Island’s waters and reliance on single-use plastics. The Executive Order targets single-use disposables such as shopping bags, bottles, cups and straws – along with items like six-pack rings and balloons – that become unsightly, dangerous, and all-too-familiar litter on land and in coastal waters. The first meeting will be held on Friday, October 5, at 1 p.m., Room 300 at DEM (235 Promenade Street Providence).

“This advisory board will help Rhode Island develop practical solutions to protect our waters from plastics pollution and ensure a greener future for our state,” said Raimondo in a press release today. “I want to thank these new members for dedicating their time and knowledge to keeping plastics out of Narragansett Bay and off our coastlines. Working together with environmental advocates, industry, large retailers and small businesses, communities, and other partners, the Task Force to Tackle Plastics will seek sustainable alternatives to enable consumers and businesses to end our reliance on single-use plastics.”

The task force includes representatives of the environmental community, industry, academia, and government. They will provide recommendations to the Governor early next year addressing the use, reuse, and clean-up of plastics in Rhode Island. DEM, CommerceRI, the RI Resource Recovery Corporation, Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, Narragansett Bay Commission, and Coastal Resources Management Council will provide support.

Members include:
  • Johnathan Berard, State Director, Clean Water Action, Co-Chair
  • Dale Venturini, President, Rhode Island Hospitality Association, Co-Chair
  • Jonathan Stone, Executive Director, Save the Bay
  • Meg Kerr, Senior Director of Policy, Audubon Society
  • Lucy Rios, Providence Racial and Environmental Justice Committee
  • Dave McLaughlin, Executive Director, Clean Ocean Access
  • Nicole Hernandez Hammer, Climate Science and Community Advocate, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Amy Moses, Vice President and Rhode Island Director, Conservation Law Foundation
  • Tim Brennan, Founder, Two Little Fish
  • Tony Fonseca, Owner, Packaging and More, RI Food Dealers Association
  • Carolyn Murray, RI Beverage Association
  • Bahjat Shariff, Operating Partner and Senior Vice President of Operations, Panera Bread
  • Howard M. Kilgus, HK Associates
  • Laurie White, President, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
  • Leah Bamberger, Director of Sustainability, City of Providence
  • Kate Weymouth, Vice President, Town Council, Town of Barrington
  • Jim Murphy, Sustainability Coordinator, Rhode Island College
  • Dennis Nixon, RI Sea Grant, URI
  • Curt Spalding, Brown Institute for Environment and Society
  • Julia Wyman), Marine Affairs Institute, Roger Williams University School of Law
  • Senator Dennis L. Algiere, Minority Leader
  • Senator Joshua Miller, Chairman, Committee on Health & Human Services
  • Members of the House of Representatives, to be determined
“DEM is eager to support the work of the Task Force to Reduce Plastics to reduce land litter and marine debris, protect our coastlines, and promote sustainable practices that protect the health of our waterways,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in the press release. “Together, we can address the scourge of plastic ocean pollution and promote stewardship of our valuable marine resources.”

In May, Rhode Island became the first state in the country to sign the United Nations-led Clean Seas Pledge, which Raimondo announced during the Volvo Ocean Race stopover at Fort Adams State Park in Newport. At the same time, Raimondo announced the Zero Plastic Marina Partnership, a voluntary effort between DEM, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA), and marina operators to keep plastics out of Narragansett Bay and off ocean coastlines. In July, Cove Haven Marina in Barrington became the first marina in the state to be named a “Zero Plastics Marina Partner” by completing the 10 pollution-prevention action steps needed to be certified by DEM. Also, DEM continues to partner with RIMTA, 11th Hour Racing, the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, and RI Sea Grant on a pilot boat recycling program for abandoned or old fiberglass boats.

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