Plastic bags prohibited in Philadelphia next month: What you should know

Starting October 1, Philadelphia businesses need to begin phasing out plastic bags.

WPVI logo
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
What to know before Philly plastic bag ban takes effect Oct. 1
Philadelphia is reminding people to start bringing their own bags when they shop.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia is reminding people to start bringing their own bags when they shop.

The city is taking the next step in its ban of single-use plastic bags next month.

Starting October 1, businesses need to begin phasing out the plastic bag, but there will be an additional six-month awareness, education, and warning period before full enforcement begins.

The ban was passed in December 2019 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

"Even as we continue to confront challenges presented by the global pandemic, the climate crisis and plastic pollution remain two very serious threats to our planet and society," said Mayor Jim Kenney. "Philadelphia remains committed to advancing our environmental goals, and the ban on single-use plastic bags will be an important step forward to achieve those goals.

What business establishments are affected?

The ban will affect all commercial establishments of all sizes in Philadelphia that make bags available for carryout items (such as food, clothing, home goods, etc.) and/or for delivery. These businesses include establishments, indoor or outdoor, where food or other products are offered to the public for sale-including but not limited to: supermarkets, convenience stores, shops, service stations, department stores, clothing stores, restaurants, food trucks, farmers' markets, and delivery services.

What bags are banned?

The legislation prohibits retail establishments from providing for checkout or delivery:

  • All single-use plastic bags. This includes bags created through a "blown film extrusion" process. The blown film extrusion process is the primary way that all plastic bags that use plastic film are created, regardless of the thickness of the plastic. Therefore, this legislation bans all bags we commonly refer to as single use plastic bags, no matter their thickness.

  • Bags made from PLA (polylactic acid) created through a blown film extrusion process.

  • Any paper bag that does not contain at least 40 percent recycled content and does not meet the labeling criteria set in the legislation.

What plastic bags are exempt from the ban?

The following bags are exempt:

  • Dry cleaner bags.

  • Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain pet waste or yard waste.

  • Bags used inside a retail establishment by a customer to deliver perishable items to the point of sale (including bags used to package bulk items, meats or fish, unwrapped prepared foods, bakery goods, flowers, potted plants, or similar items).

  • Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs.

  • Newspaper bags.