Kenney, DiCicco want to reduce plastic use in city

Legislation that would reduce the use of plastic shopping bags and polystyrene food packaging in Philadelphia has been proposed by two city councilmen.

Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney say their bills would help improve the environment by reducing waste. DiCicco noted that plastic bags – ubiquitous on roadsides – can also damage the city’s sewer system.

But this is the second time the two have tried to make this happen.

In a written press statement, Kenney said that the 2007 attempt was derailed by chemical and oil companies – whose products are used to make these items – and by some of the large retailers that use them.

“At the time, these industries made commitments to improve recycling and education efforts,” Kenney said.  “To my knowledge, they’ve not lived up to any of those commitments.”

DiCicco’s legislation would ban the use of plastic bags at large grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience store chains.  He also plans to introduce an alternative proposal that would charge a “green fee” of $.25 per bag for all establishments city-wide. This is based on a successful program in Seattle.

“Our dependence on plastic bags has led to serious environmental consequences and has impacted the City’s sewer system,” DiCicco said.  “We need to reduce our dependence on these products and I’m willing to explore different options to achieve that goal.”

Kenney’s legislation would prohibit the use of polystyrene food packaging when there is an affordable alternative biodegradable or recyclable product.  “Restricting the use of Styrofoam and requiring the use of recyclable materials is responsible policy aimed at moving Philadelphia forward in sustainable practices,” Kenney said.  “We need to encourage people to think about the impact their waste has on our environment.”

In addition, DiCicco and Kenney are set to introduce legislation that places a $.35 tax on every barrel of petroleum processed in the City of Philadelphia.  Depending on the level of production in the City’s refinery, the tax would likely raise $20 million.

Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates

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