Philadelphia's plastic bag ban takes effect today: What you should know

Wawa is offering 1,000 free reusable bags, with a purchase, in all 42 Philly stores.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Starting Friday, Philadelphia businesses will begin phasing out single-use plastic bags.

A six-month grace period will give customers and establishments time to adjust to the bag ban. Enforcement will begin in April 2022.



Wawa says it is ready with its 'Skip the Bag for Good Initiative.'

Starting at 7 a.m. Friday, Wawa is offering 1,000 free reusable bags, with a purchase, in all 42 Philly stores, while supplies last. After that, customers can buy the reusable bag for 25-cents, bring their own or skip using a bag altogether.



Philly's plastic bag 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," Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement last week. "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.

Philadelphians will have two options: use the new bags provided by the retailer or bring your own reusable bags with you.

"I think it's pretty easy. I have some pretty bulky bags that I bring and I always try to bring enough," said Gabe Roark of South Philadelphia.

Though Teri Jeffcoat of Mount Airy used plastic bags at The Fresh Grocer on Monument Road Thursday, she's now prepared for the switch.

"Still got to shop. Got to eat," Jeffcoat said.

We also spoke with Nick George outside the ACME in South Philadelphia.

He admits this will be a change.

"I'm shopping for a family. It's tough. It's tough to comply with, starting to train myself," George said.

But it's a change he thinks should happen. He just hopes everyone keeps a cool head while adjusting to plastic bags being a thing of the past.

"I really hope that people don't give the workers a hard time. I think it's going to be hard for the workers and hard for the consumers, too," George said.

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Starting Friday, Philadelphia businesses will need to begin phasing out single-use plastic bags.



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.
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