Philadelphia City Council has passed a bill that will ban retailers from providing customers with single-use plastic bags. The ban was spearheaded by Councilman Mark Squilla, who pushed for it previously on four separate occasions, and would take effect July 2, 2020, pending the final signature from Mayor Jim Kenney.

Businesses affected include supermarkets, convenience stores, service stations, department stores, dollar stores, clothing stores, restaurants, food trucks, farmers’ markets, dry cleaners, and delivery services

Despite an attempt to also impose a 15-cent fee for all other single-use bags – such as paper and heavier plastic bags – provided by businesses to customers, that provision was ditched when other council members argued it would disproportionately impact the city’s poorer residents.

The law is intended to both reduce waste and save the city money. Philadelphia spends between $9 million and $12 million a year cleaning plastic bag waste from the streets, sewers, and bodies of water.

“Philadelphia uses approximately 1 billion single-use bags every year, and most of those are plastic,” said Joseph Otis Minott, executive director of Clean Air Council. “These bags litter our communities and cost taxpayers millions of dollars every year to clean up. Although this bill is long overdue and misses a very important fee component, we are very pleased that City Council has finally started to address the chronic, and devastating litter problems the city faces.”

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Author: Michael Tanenbaum, PhillyVoice
Photo: PhillyVoice, Juan Pablo Arenas/