Clean Water Action, Neighborhood Networks, and the Sierra Club of South East Pennsylvania are organizing a meeting of residents in Northwest Philadelphia to develop a grassroots campaign aimed at repairing the flawed plastic bag ban signed in to law by Mayor Kenney in December. The public meeting will be held at the Lovett Memorial Library in Mt. Airy on Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. All interested residents are welcomed and encouraged to come.
“Philadelphia’s law banning plastic carryout bags from all retail sales, assumes retailers will offer ‘free’ paper bags as a substitute,” said Maurice Sampson, Mt. Airy resident and Director of Clean Water Action’s Philadelphia Office. “There is no such thing as 'free' shopping bags. The cost of shopping bags at check out have always been passed on to all consumers in the cost of all retail goods. Retailers report replacing paper for plastic bags will increase retail costs an estimated $80 to $100 million, which will most burden low-income consumers."
The groups are expecting Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla to introduce a new “Bring Your Own Bag" or “BYOBag” bill that will amend the shortcomings of last year’s legislation in the very near future. The groups are advocating that bill adds fees to all disposable carryout bags. Legislation adopted across the country that utilizes this approach with fees has proven to motivate shoppers to reduce the use of plastic and paper bags up to 80% and significantly increase the number of residents using reusable bags.
The groups said it’s important to get this legislation right and ensure it has the biggest impact possible with Philadelphians currently using 1.1 billion bags a year or between 350-500 bags per person and those bags contributing to 17% of the total debris recovered by the Philadelphia Water Department's skimming operations.
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