Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Council Fee For Plastic Bags Out, Total Ban In?

City Council's Committee on the Environment is now meeting on measures by Councilmen Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney to cut down on littering by placing a fee on the use of plastic bags by stores or out right banning the bags. DiCicco decided today to not move forward with the plastic bag fee, which previously found support on the committee and was prepared for a vote by the full Council.

Council Fee For Plastic Bags Out, Total Ban In?

Thomas Sustak, with the Clean Air Council, plays the part of the "bag monster" to illustrate how many bags an average consumer uses in a year as other protest during a hearing on plastic bags at City Council. (Ron Tarver / Staff Photographer)
Thomas Sustak, with the Clean Air Council, plays the part of the "bag monster" to illustrate how many bags an average consumer uses in a year as other protest during a hearing on plastic bags at City Council. (Ron Tarver / Staff Photographer)

City Council's Committee on the Environment is now meeting on measures by Councilmen Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney to cut down on littering by placing a fee on the use of plastic bags by stores or out right banning the bags.  DiCicco decided today to not move forward with the plastic bag fee, which previously found support on the committee and was prepared for a vote by the full Council.

DiCicco pulled that bill from consideration last week after some of his colleagues had second thoughts.  PhillyClout hears Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. led that call for reconsideration. 

That leaves DiCicco and Kenney this morning with their other bill, which calls for a "mandatory use of recyclable and compostable" bags at stores.  That would add up to a full ban on plastic bags.  DiCicco is now debating the issue in Council with a lobbyist from the plastic bag industry, who is saying that compostable bags cause just as much trash and use as much energy to produce and recycle as plastic bags.

UPDATE, 10:10 am:  Shari Jackson of Progressive Bag Affiliates -- an arm of the American Chemistry Council -- drew Kenney's ire when she spoke of the industry's efforts against litter.  Kenney noted that the city still has plastic bags blowing around on streets, stuck in trees and floating in rivers.

"Obviously, more needs to be done," Jackson said.

"Like banning them," Kenney retorted.

UPDATE, 10:40 am:  The committee just unanimously approved the legislation banning the type of plastic bags typically used at supermarkets and pharmacies in the city. Those bags will have to be replaced after July 1, 2011 with recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags or reusable bags. An amendment also calls for education programs in consultation with retailers and environmental advocacy groups to explain the measure to consumer before it is enforced.  DiCicco is aiming for a final vote by the full Council next week, before the start of a three-month recess.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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