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Plastic bags: Back on the table in January?

Philadelphia Councilman James Kenney says he may take another run at the plastic bag issue, come January.

Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney called me today in response to this morning's column about plastic bags.

He and Councilman Frank DiCicco had led the effort a few years ago to limit plastic bag use in Philadelphia. They tried for a fee. They tried for a ban.


Now, Kenney says that in January, he may take another run at the issue.

It's clear to many that there's still a problem because there are still plastic bags blowing all over the city.

The industry has consistently said plastic bag recycling is the way to go. But during the debate of the issue, Kenney and others said that the industry had not followed through and that recycling didn't work.

Has recycling expanded enough in the meantime? Has enough changed?

Stay tuned.

Other readers have been burning up the phone lines and filling my inbox as well. Both pro and con.

The woman with three golden retrievers can't imagine a world without free plastic bags. At least she's cleaning up after them.

Someone else wrote in favor of compostable bags — except the ones I know of won't compost in a landfill or even a backyard bin. They need to go to a special facility.

Meanwhile, a few things that didn't make it into this morning's column:

Wawa has apparently been making great strides to deal with the plastic bag problem.

The company has been retraining its employees so they don't automatically use a bag if a shopper has just one or two items. The cashier asks first.

"They automatically bag, of course, if numerous products are present," company spokeswoman Lori A. Bruce said. "While we want to ensure customers always have the option (and don't have to ask for the bag), many decline, especially if they only have a single item or two."

Wawa also has a customer recycling program, enabling customers to return plastic bags to recycling containers located in the vestibules of Wawa stores. The initiative began in 2010 and continued through last year. It is currently in about 75 percent of Wawa's mid-Atlantic stores; almost all in the direct Philadelphia region, the spokeswoman said.

Wawa also has reusable bags for sale, and it's plastic bags are made of 30 percent recycled content.

Giant Food Stores, headquartered in Carlisle, has a "bags to benches" campaign. The company has donated benches on Earth Day and to various community groups. Since 1997, Giant has donated more than 1,450 benches, said company spokesman Christopher Brand.

To commemorate the July, 2011, grand opening of Giant's new Philadelphia store on Grant Avenue, the company donated 50 benches to Keep Philadelphia Beautiful.