In December 2019, Philadelphia City Council passed a Single Use Plastic Bag Ban, a major advancement toward cleaning up Philadelphia’s environment and city streets. Due to the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the effective date of the ban has been pushed from July 2, 2020 to January 1, 2021, and businesses will be prohibited from providing single use plastic bags to customers for checkout or delivery starting on April 1, 2021. Use this FAQ to learn more about the ban and how businesses can comply.
The City will be releasing additional details on the ban along with outreach materials including informational flyers and signage businesses can post at points of sale. Check back in the coming months for additional details.
Why ban plastic bags?
Philadelphians use almost 1 billion plastic bags each year, which litter our streets, waterways, and commercial corridors. Plastic bags account for over 10,000 hours of lost staff time at our recycling facility because they are not recyclable curbside and get caught in the equipment, which costs the City money. Banning plastic bags will make our city cleaner.
What is actually banned?
The legislation bans retailers from providing:
- All single use plastic bags (This includes all those created through a “blown film extrusion” process or 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.)
- Any paper bag that does not contain at least 40% recycled content
- Single use PLA bags
What kind of bags will still be allowed?
Retailers will still be permitted to provide:
- Reusable bags made from plastic, corn-based plastic, nylon, cotton, or cloth
- Paper bags made from at least 40% recycled content
Which businesses does this effect?
The ban will affect all retail establishments in Philadelphia that make bags available for carry-out 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.
Are there any exemptions?
The following bags are exempt:
- Dry cleaner bags
- Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain pet waste or yard waste
- Bags used inside a retail establishment by a customer to deliver perishable items to the point of sale (including bags used to package bulk items, meats or fish, unwrapped prepared foods, bakery goods, flowers, potted plants, or similar items)