Governor Gina Raimondo announced on Oct. 1 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, Oct. 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. "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.
"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. "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.