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.