Newtown News of Interest
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July 6, 2021 7:11 AM!

More PA Cities and Towns May Now Implement Plastic Bag Bans

More PA Cities and Towns May Now Implement Plastic Bag Bans | Newtown News of Interest |

Cities and townships hoping to ban plastic bags within their borders may finally have the legal authority to do so in Pennsylvania.


When the Republican-controlled legislature passed the state budget last week, it didn’t renew a statewide preemption on single-use plastics, opening the door for cities and municipalities to approve new prohibitions or enforce existing bans.


Officials and activists from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh hailed the decision as a win for curbing the environmental impact of plastic. Philadelphia and some of its surrounding townships had filed suit to challenge the state’s preemption, asserting it was unconstitutionally slipped into a budget-related bill.


“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a bunch of municipalities moving swiftly to try and get their own policies on the book,” said David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment and a supporter of the ban.


Masur told Spotlight PA he has spoken to officials from at least nine cities, townships, and municipalities that expressed interest in enacting a local bag ban — and there may be more.


The legislature extended that preemption in 2020 and expanded its scope: Lawmakers banned both enacting and enforcing plastic bag bans, meaning that municipalities with bans already in place could no longer legally apply them.


The provision was set to end July 1 of this year or six months after the end of the governor’s pandemic emergency declaration — whichever came later. The legislature ended the emergency order earlier this month, meaning the current preemption is set to expire officially on Dec. 8.


Philadelphia’s citywide plastic bag ban will go into effect next month, but it will not be fully enforced and implemented until April 2022. An extended outreach and education period will help “increase compliance” and “ensure widespread awareness of the law” among retailers and consumers alike, said Kevin Lessard, Philadelphia’s deputy communications director.




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