Start bringing your own bag when you shop, Philadelphians.
Philly ban plastic bags began on July 1 -- though the new law won't be fully enforced until April 2022.
The plastic bag ban will prohibit retail businesses from giving customers single-use plastic bags and paper bags that are not made of at least 40% recycled content. Businesses will be permitted to charge customers for approved bags.
The ban includes certain exemptions, including bags used inside stores to package unwrapped food items, flowers, potted plants and dry cleaned clothing. Bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain pet waste and yard waste will also be exempt.
The legislation passed in December 2019, but the City delayed the implementation of the ban due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses.
The ban will be implemented over the next nine months, beginning on July 1. By the end of July, retail establishments must post clear signs stating that the establishment will not longer provide single-use plastic bags and non-recycled content paper bags as of Oct. 1.
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On Oct. 1, the city will start issuing warnings to stores that don't comply. On April 1, the city will start issuing fines to those stores.
The goal of the ban is to reduce litter and to save money and keep staff safe during the recycling process. People often try to recycle plastic bags curbside -- which is prohibited -- causing the bags to get stuck in the recycling equipment. This leads to dangerous conditions for recycling center staff and high costs for the City.
Plastic bags account for more than 150 hours of lost time at the recycling facility, costing $300,000 each year, according to the City.
GovLabPHL, an initiative led by the Mayor’s Policy Office, will work with City departments and other research partners to determine the success of the ban. The evaluation will examine what type of bags people use, as well as plastic bag litter and waste across the city.
Philadelphia uses an estimated one billion plastic bags per year, which litters the streets, waterways and commercial corridors of the city.
Although Pennsylvania does not have a statewide ban on plastic bags, neighboring states Delaware and New Jersey do.
Delaware's plastic bag ban went into effect in January 2021. The new law prevents stores with more than 7,000 square feet of retail space, or chains with three or more stores each having 3,000 square feet or more of retail space, from providing single-use plastic bags at checkout.
New Jersey also passed legislation banning single-use plastic and paper bags and plastic foam containers. The ban will go into effect in May 2022.