Philadelphia may finally get single-use plastic bag ban, but advocates say bill may have fatal flaw

Pat Loeb
December 08, 2019 - 4:30 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council appears poised to ban single-use plastic bags in city stores, but environmentalists fear the bill City Council is set to vote on this week won't have enough of an impact. 

The bill provides no fee that stores can charge to provide other kinds of disposable bags to customers. Without any kind of penalty for customers who don't bring reusable bags when shopping, environmentalists told Council, the bill will be far less effective.

"Every study has shown that when a consumer makes the choice to pay for a bag or not, they don't take a bag or they bring their own," said one environmentalist. 

Related: Philly City Council committee advances bill banning single-use plastic bags at retail stores

The lack of a fee has also turned retailers against the bill.

The bill's sponsor, Mark Squilla, had originally proposed a 15-cent fee, but some of his colleagues argued that would hurt low-income shoppers. He said it was better to get the bill passed than have it fail because of the fee, and he's hopeful this is a first step.

"We put in the bill that there will be a study, so if the study comes back and says it's not working the way we intended it to work, we'll have to amend the bill at a future time," Squilla said.

There have been four previous attempts in Council over 12 years to ban plastic bags.