Doylestown Township passes single-use plastic bag ban

The ban, which mandates a $0.05 fee for plastic bags provided to customers, will go into effect in November.

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Single-use plastic bags

Single-use plastic bags in use at a ShopRite grocery store. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

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Doylestown Township is banning single-use plastic bags.

The township Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance this week. The ban prohibits retailers from using plastic bags and mandates a $0.05 fee for paper bags or any other bags provided to customers.

Doylestown Township uses approximately 6.5 million plastic bags a year, which creates about 72,000 pounds of plastic waste, according to advocacy organization PennEnvironment, which helped draft the legislation.

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“That adds up year over year,” said Faran Savitz, zero waste advocate at PennEnvironment. “And so by banning plastic bags, they’ve taken a great step right now in tackling that waste, the litter that comes with it and the impact on our environment.”

Doylestown Township is now the 30th municipality in Pennsylvania to pass a plastic bag ban — a trend that is only growing, said James Baldassarre, chairperson of the Doylestown Township Environmental Advisory Council.

“I think we’re just building on a growing movement across Pennsylvania to do this … We know it’s important for the health of our environment, and we also know that it’s important for human health,” he said.

Nearly half of the plastic bag bans in the state were passed in the past year, Savitz said, an indication of how quickly the tide is shifting toward reducing single-use plastics.

However, only about 19% of Pennsylvanians are covered by a plastic bag ban at this point.

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“The more townships like Doylestown, the more boroughs and more cities that step up and take action, the bigger impact we can have,” Savitz said. “Hopefully we can see that expand further and hopefully, eventually, we can see statewide action, a bill in our Legislature that will ban plastic bags.”

Baldassarre said the township worked on the ordinance for several years. The process started in 2018 with surveying residents and gathering their input.

Officials were conscious of the impact the ban could have on business owners, and in 2022, they went door-to-door to speak with bigger stores and small business owners.

Baldassarre said big-box stores had no issue with a ban, since many have already adapted to similar bans in Philadelphia and beyond.

Some small business owners were concerned about the additional fee for paper bags, but Baldassarre said most were “neutral or okay with it.”

The plastic bag ban isn’t the only environmental action the township is taking. Baldassarre said the Environmental Advisory Council is currently working on a climate action plan to transition to renewable energy in the coming years.

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