City Council bans plastic bags at stores

City Council last week passed legislation that will encourage reusable bags and reduce single-use plastic bags in Philadelphia.

Councilman Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.) led the effort to move Bill 190610-A to reduce the use of plastic bags at retail and other stores. Council listened to environmentalists as well as the retail shopping industry before voting 15-2 to pass the bill. Councilmen David Oh and Brian O’Neill voted against the measure.

“Today’s passage of my ‘Bring Your Own bag’ legislation is historic for the city of Philadelphia,” Squilla said. “It has been a long process, and I am pleased to do my part to improve the environment for generations of Philadelphians to come. We need to stop being a disposable society and strive to become a reusable society.

“I know more work is needed to ensure retailers, large and small, have low-cost options for their customers, that will reduce litter and waste in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.”

Squilla offered an amendment that will extend the reach of the legislation to include more plastic bags than prior versions of the bill, but still keep out a whopping 15-cent fee on paper bags that some in Council objected to as a burden on lower-income consumers.

“Although fees are never desirable, studies have shown they reduce single use bags,” Squilla said. “In the next session, I will continue working with my Council colleagues and all stakeholders on a solution that’s best for our city’s environment.”

The law will go into effect on July 2.