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June 15, 2017

Are plastic bags on the way out in Philadelphia? It's up to Wolf

During a session Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate voted 28-21 in favor of banning a ban on plastic bags.

The proposed bill would make it illegal for any region throughout the state of Pennsylvania to ban or tax plastic bags. This is especially timely, as a plastic bag tax in Chicago has shown some success and Cambridge, Massachusetts, implemented its Bring Your Own Bag ordinance last year.

In Philly, banning or regulating plastic bags has been seriously considered for a long time, taking a cue from Washington, D.C.’s 5-cent-a-bag charge implemented in 2010. The bag charge is intriguing based on the possible revenue it could bring to the city, which 5th Square estimated at more than $6 million. If the bill is approved, it could be a serious detriment to cleaning up the city by 2035 – Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order last year with that goal in mind.

A lot of conversation about the ban centers on Novolex, a packaging company with a location in Milesburg, Pennsylvania, that is responsible for a lot of the plastic and packaging products used every day. While representatives opposing the bill believe it’s being pushed by Novolex’s own interests, others argue that employees and manufacturers of Novolex in small Pennsylvania towns will be hurt by any plastic bag regulation. Supporters of the bill also believe that regulations would have a negative effect on grocery and retail stores.

Gov. Tom Wolf will now decide the fate of plastic in PA. Penn Live reported Wolf has been against the bill but is not yet ready to make a final judgment.

The states currently banning plastic bag ordinances are Arizona, Idaho, Michigan and Missouri.