Bagging Out


Photo by Mark LikoskyEach year, Philadelphians use an astounding 1 billion plastic bags. Most are used just once, and many end up as litter. This fall, City Councilman Mark Squilla will introduce legislation to reduce that number by requiring a $.05 fee for all single-use bags (plastic and paper). Similar efforts failed in 2007 and 2009 due to opposition from retailers and the plastic bag industry, but hopes are high it will pass this time. Authored by Clean Air Council (CAC) staff attorney Logan Welde, with support from Saleem Chapman, also of CAC, and Julie Hancher of Green Philly Blog, the bill seeks to reduce usage by 80 percent. Twenty percent of fees collected would offset retailers’ administrative costs, with the rest going to schools or cleanup efforts. Welde hopes the bill will remedy “the obscene over-use of plastic bags in Philadelphia and mitigate the tremendous litter problem.”

According to Hancher, consumers already pay for bags in their grocery bills and taxpayers foot the cleanup bill. “Instead of wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to clean up plastic bags,” she says, “why not fund our depleted school system?” 

Find out more and sign the petition at

Story by Jon McGoran