Category Archives: Plastic

Single Use Plastics

from West Chester Borough Sustainability Advisory Committee

West Chester Borough is taking steps to curb single-use plastic waste. In July 2019 Borough Council approved an ordinance banning single use plastic bags and straws in West Chester, effective July 2nd 2020.

  • September 2018 – local students ask Council to address single use plastic bags and straws  
  • July 2019 – Ordinance written and public hearing held. Council votes to approve ordinance
  • July 2020 – Enforcement begins July 2nd

Click here to read West Chester’s Single Use Plastic ordinance.

What do businesses need to know? 

  • As of July 2nd 2020 distribution of plastic bags and straws will be prohibited within the Borough
  • Any bag distributed to customers must include 40% recycled content and be recyclable in the Borough. This is considered a “compliant bag”
  • Businesses are required to charge 10 cents per compliant bag distributed to customers, and disclose this fee on the sales receipt
  • Any business may request a year-long exemption for review by the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee
  • Businesses observed to be violating the ordinance will receive a written warning, then a $100, $200, and $500 fine for successive violations in a single 12-month period.

Pottstown Is USA’s 1st City To Have Flexible Plastic Recycling

By Justin Heinze, West Chester Patch, Sep 30, 2019

Plastic bags, wraps, packaging, product packaging, and more, a significant part of modern waste, can be recycled in the innovative program
Pottstown Is USA's 1st City To Have Flexible Plastic Recycling

POTTSTOWN, PA — Pottstown has been chosen as the first municipality in all of North America to pilot an innovative recycling program that could drastically reduce waste heading to landfills.

The new program will allow residents to recycle flexible plastic packaging — things like plastic bags, wraps, pouches, product packaging, potato chip bags, and more.

Typically, these types of plastics comprise a significant and growing portion of waste that goes to landfills. Now, they’ll be used to produce a new end recycled product called “rFlex.”

The pilot is possible thanks to a partnership organized by Materials for the Future, an industry-sponsored research collaborative, which searched around the nation for an appropriate partner. …

Read more at West Chester Patch. West Chester voted last month to ban single-use plastic bags and straws effective July 2020, Narberth did so in October 2018, and Philadelphia is considering it.

Supermarket chain Stop & Shop removes single-use plastic bags from all Connecticut stores

This move to remove plastic bags from their stores comes a year before a Connecticut law will ban the bags state-wide.

The supermarket chain will start by providing free paper bags, then in September charging a 10-cent fee. Also, the store will run a program where customers can exchange one or more single-use plastic bags for a reusable bag.

And of course, Stop & Shop will offer a selection of reusable bags for purchase.

Rudy DiPietro, the senior vice president of operations at Stop & Sthop, commented – “We know that the environmental impact of plastics is something our customers and communities care about here in Connecticut, so we’re eliminating single-use plastic bags well ahead of the state-mandated timeline”.

To read the full article, published by Supermarket News, click here.

Why Plastic is bad


by Plastic-Free Please Action Group

1. Plastic does not go away. Only 9% of it is actually recycled (know your facts). Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, which will end up in our food.

2. Plastic negatively affects our health. Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

3. Plastic spoils our groundwater. There are thousands of landfills in the United States. Buried beneath each one of them, toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

4. Plastic attracts other pollutants. Chemicals in plastic which give them their rigidity or flexibility (flame retardants, bisphenols, phthalates and other harmful chemicals) are oily poisons that repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris. So, the toxic chemicals that leach out of plastics can accumulate on other plastics. This is a serious concern with increasing amounts of plastic debris accumulating in the world’s oceans.

5. Plastic threatens wildlife. Wildlife become entangled in plastic, they eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young, and it is found littered in even extremely remote areas of the Earth. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.

6. Plastic piles up in the environment. Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. Only 8% gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, is burned or becomes litter.

7. Plastic poisons our food chain. Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics and absorbing their hazardous chemicals. The tiny, broken-down pieces of plastic are displacing the algae needed to sustain larger sea life that feed on them.

8. Plastic costs billions to abate. Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish and birds—because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is inestimable.

 

West Chester stands up to the state by passing a single-use plastic bag and straw ban

In late June, PA Governor Wolf signed a state budget to which the General Assembly added an amendment that blocks municipalities from passing plastic bans. But West Chester became the first municipality to stand up against this legislation by passing a ban anyway — because the plastic crisis can’t wait any longer.

From “West Chester Passes Ban of Single-Use Plastic Bags and Straws,” by Justin Heinze, West Chester Patch, 7/19/10:

WEST CHESTER, PA — Before a packed crowd at borough hall Wednesday night, West Chester made history, voting to become the latest Pennsylvania municipality to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags and straws. It comes as local governments spar with the conservative state legislature that has sought to make such ordinances illegal.

West Chester’s borough council voted 4-3 to approve the ordinance. The vote comes less than a year after nearby Narberth became the first municipality in all of Pennsylvania to pass a similar measure. And it passed despite concerns expressed by council members early in the meeting that the measure defied state law.

“It is incumbent upon council to resist and if you’re going to resist, resist completely,” State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) told the gathering. “This is a clear overreach of local control.” …

Photo from Rep. Danielle Friel Otten on Instagram.

And the crowd cheers from West Chester’s Plastics Bag Ban instigators for West Chester Friends School and Youth Uprising.

Please read the full article HERE at Patch.com.

Prepared statement by Prof. Ashlie B. Delshad for the Plastics Ordinance hearing, West Chester, 7/17/19… and more info

Borough Council approved the ordinance at an exciting and even dramatic hearing! Many thanks to the huge number of citizens who turned out to support the ordinance! Download the text of the ordinance here: https://wcgreenteam.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/plastic-bag-and-straw-ordinance-wc-for-7-17-19.pdf. One change was made: the effective date was moved from January 1 to July 2, 2020 (the day after the reports stipulated by the state government’s would-be delaying action are due). See background and the summary and text in which the General Assembly tried to block the ordinance in our post. “Harrisburg vs. West Chester.” Although Professor Delshad did not get a chance to be among those who spoke at the hearing, we are posting her eloquent prepared statement as one more piece of evidence why the ordinance needed to be passed:

In 2015, 73% of West Chester voters cast their ballots in favor of our Community Bill of Rights, which includes the following language:

“We the people of West Chester Borough, Pennsylvania, find that our current system of government fails to recognize our self-governing authority because corporations may assert their “rights” to override our laws; our local government and elected representatives can be preempted by the state or federal government even when our elected representatives act to protect our community’s health, safety, and welfare; and our local government is banned from adopting and enforcing laws that have not been authorized by the state…

“We the people of West Chester Borough, Pennsylvania, hereby declare that our current system of local government is illegitimately limited by the state and that we adopt this law to create a new system of local governance that recognizes our self-governing authority while securing and protecting our rights.”

As a nation, we are behind the rest of the world with 32 countries having already banned single-use plastic bags. Leadership on this issue will not come from the federal level, and PA seems to be moving in the direction of the 13 other states (Idaho, Arizona, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas) which have prohibited municipalities from banning plastic bags. Municipalities are the ones leading when it comes to many progressive environmental issues including bag bans. Many eyes are on West Chester at this moment; we are at a critical juncture where we can choose to be leaders, we can choose to defy the corporate interests that snuck this moratorium into the state budget, we can choose to move forward according to the spirit and language in our Community Bill of Rights.

We do not know what will happen after the current one-year state level moratorium on bag bans expires, but if we lead the fight to tell the state legislature this moratorium is unacceptable by enacting our proposed plastic bag and straw ban as it is currently written, we stand a much greater chance of preventing a permanent state level prohibition than if we stand idly by and let this undermine our community’s commitment to progress.

The large crowd at the hearing, from Mayor Dianne Herrin’s Facebook page.
See also “Borough Council Votes to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags and Straws” on the web site of Senator Andy Dinniman (D-19), who spoke strongly in favor of the ordinance.
See the video of the hearing here.