Philly’s plastic bag ban rolls out this summer. Here’s what that means for you


After a year delay, Philadelphia is set to formally implement the long awaited plastic bag ban on July 1. By July 31, all businesses will be required to post signage informing their clients of the plastic bag ban, which will officially go into effect on Oct. 1.

Although plastic bag bans are gaining momentum across the country, these types of bans are a major paradigm shift for merchants and consumers. So Philly’s officials have decided to only issue warnings to businesses that don’t comply between Oct. 1, 2021 and April 1, 2022. After that, businesses will begin to receive fines for non-compliance.

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But even with this grace period, there is still the complex task of educating the thousands of businesses that will be affected by the ban. For instance, on what types of bags are actually banned.

According to the city, the ban includes:

  • All single-use plastic bags.

  • Bags made from PLA (polylactic acid) or other bioplastics.

  • Any paper bag that does not contain at least 40% recycled content and does not meet the labeling criteria set in the legislation.

Bags exempted from this legislation include:

  • Dry cleaner bags.

  • Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain pet waste or yard waste.

  • 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).

With more than 10,000 businesses affected by this legislation, many of which are independently owned, I believe proactive education rather than punitive, reactive enforcement will be needed to initially establish compliance.

So it was great to see that Philadelphia’s Commerce Department is taking proactive measures even further by also offering three virtual business information sessions on how to comply.

Businesses can chose from the following monthly sessions to learn more about the ban:

New Jersey passed plastic bag ban legislation in November 2020, which will take full effect in May 2022. And like Philly, New Jersey has been taking measures to start preparing businesses for the ban.

Just this past weekend while doing work at my mom’s house, I had to make a trip to Lowes and as I was checking out, I couldn’t help but notice the paper bags in the bagging area. I was also pleasantly surprised when the cashier asked me the million dollar question, “Do you need a bag?”

When I asked her what she thought of the bag ban, she didn’t complain or make it seem like her job or the lives of her customers would suffer as the plastics industry likes to claim as they lobby against these bans.

Instead, she said, “It’s all good. We know it’s coming so we’re just getting ready for it.”

I asked how she personally felt about it.

She replied, “I think it’s cool.”

1 Comment

  1. Ca has had the plastic bag ban for 7 or more years. When you travel to Europe you need to have your own bags.

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