Chairman Bennett introduces bill to reduce use of wasteful packaging

This is a file image of the Rhode Island State House. (WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The House Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman David A. Bennett has initiated legislation to shift the cost and responsibility of disposing product packaging back on the producers of the product. This legislation would establish “producer responsibility” for packaging to push manufacturers to reduce wasteful packaging.

“There is a lot of wasteful, nonrecyclable packaging out there that winds up in our landfill or contaminating our recycling loads. And it’s just crazy that it’s our overburdened cities and towns – who have absolutely no control over the choice to create that packaging or purchase the products that come in it – who pay for its disposal in their tipping fees at the landfill. That material makes up about 16 percent of all the trash that goes into the landfill, which at this rate, will reach its capacity by 2034,” said Chairman Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston). “Consumers have some power in their purchasing choices, but ultimately, it’s the companies selling those products who have the real control, because they choose that packaging. They must stop burdening our communities and our planet with this much single-use garbage, and this bill is a way to finally hold their feet to the fire.”

The program would compel companies to change their product design to reduce waste and would be assessed by the weight type and amount of packaging for sale in Rhode Island. A nonprofit producer responsibility organization would assess and collect fees while also managing the packaging responsibility fund. Funding would be used on projects to reduce waste by investing in reuse and refill systems, recycling infrastructure, and providing more recycling education in the state. Municipalities would also be reimbursed for disposal and any litter abatement required.

“Corporations use wasteful packaging because a lot of it, particularly clear plastic, allows consumers to see the product. It’s enticing. But when you get it home, that packaging is often annoyingly hard to open, on top of being wasteful. And even if they may not realize it, consumers are paying for its disposal because they are taxpayers. I think consumers would really welcome a shift toward less elaborate, wasteful packaging,” said Chairman Bennett. “And our planet needs this.”

Categories: News, Politics, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island