The single-use plastic bag ban, originally passed by City Council in December 2019, was implemented July 1, 2021. In order to provide businesses time to prepare and comply with the law there will be a nine-month awareness, education, and warning period before full enforcement begins.
According to the City of Philadelphia official website, city residents use almost 1 billion plastic bags each year, which litter streets, waterways, and commercial corridors. Plastic bags account for over 10,000 hours of lost staff time and pose a danger to workers at recycling facilities because they get caught in the equipment. Banning plastic bags will make our city cleaner, reduce waste and save money.
What is banned?
The City of Philadelphia’s plastic bag ban starts October 1, 2021.
Be sure to bring your reusable bags with you when you shop!🛍️
— City of Philadelphia (@PhiladelphiaGov) June 30, 2021
The legislation prohibits commercial businesses from providing on-site or with a delivery:
- All single-use plastic bags. This includes all those created through a “blown film extrusion” process or bags that are less than 2.25 mils thick. (The blown film extrusion process is the primary way that all plastic bags that use plastic film are created, regardless of the thickness of the plastic. Therefore, this legislation bans ALL bags we commonly refer to as single-use plastic bags, no matter their thickness.)
- Bags made from PLA (polylactic acid) created through a blown film extrusion process.
- Any paper bag that does not contain at least 40 percent recycled content and does not meet the labeling criteria set in the legislation.
Retail establishments will still be permitted to provide:
- Made of nylon, cotton, cloth, polyester, or another machine washable fabric that are specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.
- Reusable plastic bags that are not created through blown film extrusion, are more than 2.25 mils thick and are specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.
Paper bags that:
- Contain a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled content
- Contain no old-growth fiber
- Display the word “Recyclable” or “Recycled Content” in a highly visible manner and are labeled with the name of the manufacturer and the percentage of post-consumer recycled content of the bag in an easy-to-read font size.
Which businesses are affected?
The ban will affect all retail establishments of all sizes in Philadelphia that make bags available for carryout items (such as food, clothing, home goods, etc.) and/or for delivery. These businesses include establishments, indoor or outdoor, where food or other products are offered to the public for sale, including supermarkets, convenience stores, shops, service stations, department stores, clothing stores, restaurants, food trucks, farmers’ markets, and delivery services.
Beginning August 1, 2021, and for at least six months thereafter, retail establishments are required to post signage at all points of sale informing customers that single-use plastic bags and non-compliant paper bags will no longer be provided by the establishment. The City has developed signage in multiple languages available for download at phila.gov/plastic-bag-ban and will be distributing it to businesses for this purpose.