Philadelphia to implement plastic bag ban on July 1

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The City of Philadelphia will implement its ban on single-use plastic bags beginning Thursday, July 1. Originally passed by City Council in December 2019, the ban was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will go into effect next week. Although the ban will be implemented beginning July 1, there will be a nine-month awareness, education, and warning period before full enforcement begins in order to provide businesses with ample time to prepare and comply with the law. Businesses are encouraged to begin phasing out their plastic bag supply and post signage notifying customers of the change as soon as possible.

Philadelphia City Council passed the Single-use Plastic Bag Ban as a major advancement toward cleaning up Philadelphia’s streets and waterways, and reducing plastic waste. While businesses will be required to hang signage to inform customers of the ban by Aug. 1, the prohibition of plastic bags will not begin until Oct. 1. To ensure businesses have ample time to comply with the law, from Oct. 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022, the city will only issue warnings to businesses that are not in compliance. After April 1, 2022, the city will begin to fully enforce the ban.

“Even in the wake of recovery from a global pandemic, the climate crisis and plastic pollution remain two very serious threats to our planet and society,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement. “Philadelphia is committed to continuing to advance our environmental goals, and while the ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect later than we originally anticipated, we believe this timeline will help increase compliance. By building out an extended education and warning period, the City will be better able to ensure widespread awareness of the law to our diverse business owners and to residents and consumers.”

To assist businesses through this transition, Philadelphia officials are offering resources during the nine-month education and warning period—including signage in multiple languages, that businesses can download, print, and hang at points of sale as well as a flyer that answers frequently asked questions about the ban—all of which are available online at phila.gov/plastic-bag-ban. The city also held three virtual business information sessions that are available to watch online.

The ban will affect all commercial establishments in Philadelphia that make bags available for carryout items (such as food, clothing, home goods, etc.) and for delivery. These businesses include establishments, indoor or outdoor, where food or other products are offered to the public for sale, including but not limited to: supermarkets, convenience stores, shops, service stations, department stores, clothing stores, restaurants, food trucks, farmers’ markets and delivery services.

The following bags are exempt: dry cleaner bags; bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain pet waste or yard waste; and bags used inside a retail establishment by a customer to deliver perishable items to the point of sale (including bags used to package bulk items, meats or fish, unwrapped prepared foods, bakery goods, flowers, potted plants, or similar items.

Information and resources are available for download at phila.gov/plastic-bag-ban.

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