Yesterday Councilman Mark Squilla introduced single use bag legislation that would impose a small fee (five cents) for anyone who uses a single use bag when making a purchase from a retail establishment. The fee would be imposed on both plastic and paper bags.
Reducing bags is an easy way to tackle the City’s ongoing problem with trash that ends up in rivers and streams, clogs storm drains, and negatively impacts neighborhoods. The Philadelphia Water Department has found that plastic bags comprise 17 percent of the total debris recovered by their skimming operations.
“It is truly gratifying to see City Council finally move on this important legislation, the first step needed to clean up our streets and rivers. Clean Water Action has delivered hundreds of letters from our members to City Council in recent weeks calling for a bag bill. The introduction of the bill, a day after Earth Day, could not have come at a better time,” said Mary Donahue, program organizer for Clean Water Action, in a press release.
Municipalities nationwide have adopted some form of bag fee legislation or bag bans. In 2010, Washington D.C. passed legislation to reduce plastic bags. Since then, the city reported that 67 percent of residents are seeing fewer plastic bags as litter and 80 percent of residents have reduced their usage of single use bags. Honolulu, Hawaii will implement a plastic bag ban on July 1. Huntington Beach, California also a bag ban in place, but city council is trying to repeal the ban.
Clean Water Action, a grassroots group focused on water, energy and environmental health with 100,000 members statewide in Pennsylvania, has received endorsements from 46 organizations and businesses that support the aims of a single use bag campaign, including East Mount Airy Neighbors, Fairmount Civic Association, United By Blue and more.
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The aims of the single-use bag campaign are to:
- Reduce plastic and paper bags used by Philadelphians;
- Reduce litter that pollutes our neighborhoods, waterways and clogs storm drains;
- Encourage consumers and businesses to use reusable bags; and,
- Distribute reusable bags to low-income residents
- Hold workshops and presentations at community centers
Image via Flickr User Kate Ter Haar-30-
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