A ban on the use of traditional plastic bags by retail stores failed in City Council today under pressure from the business community and the plastics industry.
Councilman Frank DiCicco's bill was rejected by Council this morning in a 6-10 vote. Council President Anna C. Verna, whose husband was buried yesterday, was absent.
The bill would have prohibited stores from using plastic bags that are not biodegradable or cannot be composed. Most bags currently in use are simply reclyclable; they do not meet the standard and would have to be replaced by the alternate plastic bags, paper, or reusable bags. Industry opponents said the plastic bags would force many stores to use paper, which has an even greater environmental impact, they said.
The propopsed law would not not have gone into effect until July 2011, allowing time for what Council members described as a public education campaign. DiCicco's bill originally called for a 25-cent fee for each bag, to encourage use of reuseable bags. That was amended to a complete ban as lobbyists complained that the bill would adversely impact the poor.
Councilman Jim Kenney, a co-sponsor, blamed ShopRite for lobbying against the bill, and encouraged Philadelphians not to shop there. DiCicco accused the plastic bag industry for undermining the bill.
"I have never dealt with an industry that has been so manipulative," DiCicco said on the Council floor.