Bag fee possible at Philadelphia grocery, convenience stores

Listen
 Councilman Mark Squilla supports a plan to charge city shoppers 5 cents for a plastic or paper bag. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Councilman Mark Squilla supports a plan to charge city shoppers 5 cents for a plastic or paper bag. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A Philadelphia lawmaker would like to charge you an extra nickel to take that paper or plastic shopping bag.  

City Councilman Mark Squilla said he wants the bag surcharge to make people think twice before accepting a bag at the grocery or convenience store.

“We think that litter is a major issue in the city,” he said. “And this is just the start of the way to go through and help eliminate litter in the city.”

Councilman Curtis Jones, who said the 5-cent surcharge could hurt shoppers in low-income neighborhoods, said he understands the litter problem is fueled by plastic bags.

“They wind up in trees, looking like fruit,” he said. “But we have to beware, in some neighborhoods people are counting their pennies to make ends meet so they can eat.”

Three cents of the surcharge would go to the merchant, two to the city for litter cleanup.  The bill hasn’t had a hearing yet.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.