Philadelphia’s ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect Thursday, July 1, though strict enforcement won’t happen for nearly another year, the city announced Wednesday.
The ban, which Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law in December 2019, had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation bans single-use plastic bags at retail establishments across the city, as well as paper bags that don’t contain at least 40% recycled content.
While the ban will be implemented beginning Thursday, the city said a full prohibition on the bags will not begin until Oct. 1, and noncompliant businesses will be issued only a warning through April 1, 2022.
“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,” Kenney said 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.”
Philadelphia set up a website that provides resources to businesses as they transition away from single-use bags, including signage in multiple languages and a list of vendors that carry reusable bags that meet the city’s requirements.
Bans on the use of plastic bags have become more commonplace across the country in recent years. As of last month, there were at least 500 local bag regulations in 28 states and Washington, D.C., according to PlasticBagLaws.org, which tracks the legislation.
“The plastic bag ban in Philly is a long time coming,” said David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment and a supporter of the ban. “Plastic bags are the poster child for the environmental harm caused by single-use plastics. Nothing we use for a few minutes like these plastic bags should be allowed to litter our communities, pollute our environment, and fill our landfills and incinerators for hundreds of years to come.”