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Newport City Council: To ban, or not to ban, that’s sort of the question

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Newport City Councilors Tuesday night decided to follow along with Council Dave Allen’s suggestion that the city council form a large task force to determine if a ban on or reduction in use of single use plastic bags should be adopted by the city of Newport.

Councilors acknowledged the environmental threat of the bags to wildlife on land and sea, as well as clogging up landfills, but decided they want a wide ranging group of “stakeholders” on the issue, to be allowed to weigh in on any proposed city position on the bags or methods of achieving either a ban or a forced reduction in their use.

The plastic bag task force will be made up of environmental groups, grocery stores, the farmers market, waste haulers, the fishing community, Chamber of Commerce, big retailers and little retailers and a generous representation by members of the public. All will get to chime in, but with direction from the council that they explore everything from no ban, to partial ban, to full ban. By next September the council would expect to see a set of recommendations on the subject.

Surfrider Foundation regional coordinator Charlie Plybon said when the task force is fully staffed he wants the council to give them very clear instructions on what the agenda is, to make it clear that the whole focus is to do something about single use plastic bags.

City Councilor David Allen said he will assist in tracking down members of all listed special interest groups to serve on the task force. Again, their recommendations won’t be due, officially, until September.

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