City Council yesterday began a three-month recess after rejecting a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets and declining to vote on legislation to better regulate trash bins in the city.
Councilman Jim Kenney, a sponsor of the plastic-bag ban, singled out ShopRite for advocating against the anti-litter legislation and vowed to organize a boycott of the supermarket chain.
"Spend your money elsewhere," Kenney urged. "I will be spending my summer motivating and mobilizing all the environmental groups that I can find to make sure that everybody knows that ShopRite, our local company, was partly behind the defeat of this progressive bill today."
Councilman Frank DiCicco, the other sponsor, complained about lobbying by the American Chemistry Council. DiCicco, who first introduced the legislation two years ago with Kenney, said that group promised to launch recycling and education programs to cut down on the number of plastic bags littered across the city.
"Every single promise they made two years ago has not been met," DiCicco said. "Not one."
Council voted 10-6 to reject the ban. Three members - Frank Rizzo, Jack Kelly and Donna Reed Miller - supported the ban in a committee vote last week but switched their votes yesterday.
Kelly said the bill might be revived in a year or so.
"I think we're on the right track, but it's going to take more time," he said.
Rizzo said he changed his mind after hearing concerns from supermarket companies. "Banning something, in my opinion, was unreasonable," he said.
ShopRite spokeswoman Karen Meleta said it was an "overstatement" by Kenney that the chain had played a significant role in defeating the legislation. She said the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association led that effort.
David McCorkle, chief executive officer of that group, said it favors recycling of plastic bags and education programs to encourage reuse along with strengthening and enforcing current litter laws. "The problem is litter," he said. "It's not with the bags."
Legislation to better regulate trash bins, commonly known by the trademarked "Dumpsters," came up for a vote yesterday but then was held at the last possible moment by its sponsor, Councilman Bill Green.
The legislation consolidates the city's enforcement efforts, requires electronic medallions to make it easier to identify a trash-bin user and increases license fees and fines for violations.
Green said the legislation wouldn't change the law but would make it easier to determine who is responsible for problem trash bins.
"It makes it enforceable," Green said. "Until users can be fined for violations, which this bill makes possible, we will not solve the problem of our unattractive alleyways."
Green said he held the legislation, which is opposed by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, at Mayor Nutter's request. He plans to continue pushing the plan when Council returns in mid-September.