Philadelphia’s plastic bag ban will be enforced from April 1, 2022

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — The city of Philadelphia began enforcing its plastic bag ban on Friday after a six-month warning period.

Businesses will now face fines for using single-use plastic bags for purchases.

The minimum penalty is $150 for each offence.

Businesses can offer or sell reusable bags, heavy plastic bags designed for multiple reuses, and paper bags with at least 40% recycled content.

Philadelphia’s plastic bag ban passed in December 2019 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

It entered into force on October 1, 2021.

The move is part of the city’s efforts to reduce plastic pollution and waste.

Buyers are asked to bring their own reusable bags.

Christine Knapp, director of sustainability for the city of Philadelphia, said about one billion plastic bags were used in the city in the span of a year before the pandemic.

She says you can continue to use the plastic bags you already have. The goal is not to give new ones.

“Our environmental and climate goals, we want to reduce waste in general, we have a waste goal, and we want to reduce plastic waste specifically as part of that goal,” Knapp said.

Knapp also said the bags can clog recycling machines and there is a quality of life element, reducing pollution and waste in the city.

Some shoppers inside Reading Terminal Market said they had adapted to bring their own reusable bags.

“Well, I always put them in my pockets before I go down. I keep them on all the time. The same two bags. I reuse them all the time,” East Falls’ Benjamin Moore said.

Others said they had become accustomed to receiving paper bags.

“I like paper bags a bit because I can reuse them around the house, and I can use them for so many different functions. It’s also easier to dispose of them, and you know you’re not using them. don’t actually put in the environment,” said Rebecca Koolian of Newburgh, New York.

Here is more information from the city:

Which commercial establishments are affected?
The ban will affect all business establishments of all sizes in Philadelphia that make bags available for take-out items (such as food, clothing, household items, etc.) and/or for delivery. These businesses include establishments, indoors or outdoors, where food or other products are offered to the public for sale, including but not limited to: supermarkets, convenience stores, stores, gas stations , department stores, clothing stores, restaurants, food trucks, farmers’ markets and delivery services.

What bags are prohibited?
Legislation prohibits retail establishments from providing at checkout or delivery:

  • All single-use plastic bags. This includes bags created by a “blown film extrusion” process. The blown film extrusion process is the primary means of creating all plastic bags using plastic film, regardless of the thickness of the plastic. Therefore, this legislation prohibits all bags that we commonly call single-use plastic bags, regardless of their thickness.
  • PLA (polylactic acid) bags created by a blown film extrusion process.
  • Any paper bag that does not contain at least 40% recycled content and does not meet the labeling criteria defined by the legislation.

Which plastic bags are exempt from the ban?
The following bags are exempt:

  • Bags sold in packages containing several bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain animal or garden waste.
  • Bags used inside a retail establishment by a customer to deliver perishable goods to the point of sale (including bags used to package bulk goods, meat or fish, prepared foods not wrapped, baked goods, flowers, potted plants or similar items).
  • Bags provided by pharmacists to hold prescription drugs.


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Bryce K. Locke