Letter: Rhode Island desperately needs a bottle bill

Posted 12/6/23

In September, the Sogkonate Garden Club of Little Compton collected over 87 pounds of trash from our beaches in one day and over the past year, Friends of the Saugatucket in Wakefield collected over …

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Letter: Rhode Island desperately needs a bottle bill

Posted

In September, the Sogkonate Garden Club of Little Compton collected over 87 pounds of trash from our beaches in one day and over the past year, Friends of the Saugatucket in Wakefield collected over 80,000 plastic ‘nips’ alone! According to a new study, URI scientists estimate that the top two inches of bottom sediment in Narragansett Bay now contain over 1,000 tons of microplastics. These tiny particles of plastic pollution blanketing the bottom of the Bay are the end result of the overwhelming amount of single-use plastic litter found across Rhode Island. This plastic pollution impacts everyone in Rhode Island from fishermen to beach goers.

Nips, plastic water bottles, and other beverage containers litter curbs and streets across Rhode Island, and when it rains, those bottles can be washed into the closest stream or river, most of which end up on our shores. This litter breaks down into tiny microplastics with potentially harmful impacts to the local ecosystem and human health.

But there is an upstream solution! A coalition of organizations pushed last legislative session for a proven policy solution to litter — a ‘bottle bill.’ In states with bottle bills, a small refundable deposit is placed on beverage containers which is returned to the consumer when the containers are properly returned. This means it pays to NOT litter!

A joint House and Senate legislative study commission is currently meeting to examine bottle bills as one potential policy solution to beverage bottle litter and plastic pollution. We already know that bottle bills work. The General Assembly should heed the warning of this URI report, and prioritize passing a bottle bill next session. There is less litter in bottle bill states than in states without bottle bills. Bottle bills reduce litter because there is a financial incentive to properly return bottles and pick up those that are left on the ground. For the future health of The Ocean State, Rhode Island needs a bottle bill.

Jennifer Wieting

Little Compton

 

 

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