Eliminating Single-Use Plastics

What are we doing?

We’re seeking to significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics in our region. This includes shopping bags, utensils, takeout containers, straws and more! This spring, we’re focusing on Philadelphia legislation to encourage reusable bags, and reduce our usage of single-use plastic bags.

On Dec 12, 2019 - Philadelphia Takes First Step Towards Bag Litter Reduction ...

... but more is needed. The bill passed in December, 2019 calls for a ban on thin plastic bags and a study to assess effectiveness in July of 2021, but does not impose a fee on paper bags or thicker plastic bags. This is something that may be looked at by the new City Council in the first half of 2020. Other cities have gone down this road (Chicago) and have ended up adding a fee to further incentivise patrons to bring their own bag. WHYY.com - https://whyy.org/articles/phillys-plastic-bag-ban-is-finally-happening/

On Sep 25, 2019, the #BYOBagPHL Rally was held at Philadelphia City Hall:


On July 17, 2019 the West Chester Borough Council passed an ordinance restricting plastic bags and straws:

wc borough

We're working with other groups on this as Litter Free Philly, launched Presidents Day, February 18, 2019. Please "Sign Petition" on that site.  Held at the Church of the Advocate on Diamond Street in North Philadelphia, more than 50 activists and concerned citizens participated in this press conference and workshop. Watch the news clips from PHL17 and CBS3 and the Live Tweet stream from PennEnvironment. 

What’s so bad about single-use plastic bags?

  1. Plastic bags harm wildlife
  2. Plastic bags are a major litter problem
  3. Plastic bags can suffocate infants
  4. Plastic bags do not biodegrade
  5. Plastic bags are rarely recycled; mostly incinerated, adding to air pollution
  6. Plastic bags are made from non-renewable fossil fuels

See our fact sheet for details.  

Area Retailers leading on reducing plastic bags

  • MOM's Organic Market - Offers a 10 cent credit for each reusable bag that a customer brings in for use. MOM's was the first major retailer to completely eliminate plastic bags, which they did in 2005. Additionally, they've had their bag credit policy in place since 2008. Read more about their environmental initiatives on their website here; the section on plastic is called "Reducing Reliance on Plastic."
  • Aldi - Per store policy, don't give away single-use plastic bags at checkout. They charge 7c for paper bags, and 10c insulated reusable plastic bags. Encourage the customers bring their own bags. 
  • Weavers Way Co-op - Makes empty boxes available to load up groceries. Paper bags available for purchase. 
  • Ben & Jerry's - We can't recycle our way out of this problem - EcoWatch
  • Reading Terminal Market - Sells reusable bags designed by students at Fleisher Art Memorial for $1.25 with $0.25 from each sale donated to Fleischer Art Memorial. 
  • Wegmans - 

Thanks to National Geographic & Andreas Tanner for this great video.

Like what we’re doing?

Questions? Contact:

Team at GreenFest, September 2018

About single-use plastics 

ocean plastic

  • Collins Dictionary announced “single-use” as the 2018 Word of the Year.
  • The End Of Plastic Cutlery, Plates And Straws: EU Market Says Goodbye To Single-Use Plastic Products, Jan 22 2019, Forbes
  • Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans.
  • Single-use-plastics frequently do not make it to a landfill or are recycled. A full 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is left to flow into our oceans; the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute. This is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050. By 2050, this could mean there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.

About single-use plastic bags

About single-use water bottles

About styrofoam single-use cups

  • 500 billion disposable cups are consumed every year. Americans alone throw away 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups every year. Most of the Styrofoam disposed of today will still be present in landfills 500 years from now.
  • Global Shot at a Green Coffee Cup - Study In Australia.gov

About single-use plastic straws

  • Plastic Straw Bans
  • Half A Billion Plastic Straws - LA Times
  • US Cities That Have Banned Plastic Straws - Fast Company

About cigarette butts

  • The No. 1 man-made contaminant in the world’s oceans is the cigarette butt.
  • The Most Littered Item In The World - Cigarette Butt - NBC News


Video Shorts and News Stories



Facts & Stats


Incinerators & Landfills

Facts & Stats


Local Organizing

Page last updated on 15 February 2019 by meenal