Tag Archives: plastic bags

Sustainable Storefronts in West Chester

Since West Chester Borough passed legislation in 2019 banning most one-time uses of plastic bags and straws, implementation has been delayed by state claims of “pre-emption” and the Covid epidemic. However, progress has continued under the Sustainable Storefronts initiative, which asks businesses to adhere to a set of plastic-reduction principles. Those that have received the Borough’s recognition in this way so far (from the Borough’s “Single-Use Plastics” web page) are:

Congratulations to those businesses and we are hoping for many more soon! Many thanks also to WCU communications students, who as a class project are reaching out to encourage businesses to join the effort.

Here are the Borough’s criteria for recognition under Sustainable Storefronts:

Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes – Choose 3 of 5

  • Use recyclable paper bags for takeout
  • No plastic straws – biodegradable option by request
  • No Styrofoam
  • No plastic takeout containers
  • 100% reusable wares for on-site dining

Retail – commit to all

  • Use recyclable paper bags
  • Encourage customers to BYO bags

Plastics Industry Uses the Pandemic to Boost Production

This article by bporter from Green America on July 13, 2020, shows how industry uses any excuse not to respect the environment and the public interest.

Locally, we see that if you order groceries delivered or for pickup, you are also consuming a huge number, over double thickness, of single-use plastic bags; and even if you shop in person, many stores will not let you bring in your own bags (your own clothes and shoes, fine, it seems).

And In West Chester we’ve seen that the state legislature has taken the opportunity to extend its “ban on the ban” of single-use plastic bags and straws.

“…there is a lack of substantive evidence to back up claims that daily items such as single-use plastic bags and food service ware are less likely to transmit the coronavirus. The industry has commonly cited older studies that only confirm bacteria can accumulate on unwashed bags (and that washing reusable bags destroys the bacteria).

“Recently, over 100 scientists from 18 countries affirmed that reusables are safe and don’t increase the chance of virus transmission. They state that single-use plastics are not inherently safer and cause additional public health concerns….”

Read the article at Green America

Ban on Single Use Plastics, from West Chester Borough

[n.b. these measures have been on hold due to state opposition and the Covid epidemic, but the Sustainable Storefronts program is moving ahead.]

From West Chester Borough’s web site, about its upcoming ban on single-use plastic bags and straws:


The 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.

Key Dates:

  • 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 business owners 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


Businesses may request a one-time, one year exemption from the Borough’s 2019 Single Use Plastic Ban for consideration by the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. Click here to submit an exemption.

Plastic-bag ban introduced in Council

The above title could apply in West Chester, where Borough Council is holding a hearing on July 17, 6:30 p.m., at 401 E. Gay St., about its planned adoption of an ordinance entitled “Plastic Bag and Plastic Straw Regulations” (download here: https://wcgreenteam.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/plastic-bag-and-straw-ordinance-wc-for-7-17-19.pdf) for the following purpose:

The purpose of this Chapter is to reduce the use of single-use, plastic carry-out bags and single-use, plastic straws by commercial establishments within the Borough of West Chester, curb litter on the streets, in the parks, and in the trees, protect the local streams, rivers, waterways and other aquatic environments, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce solid waste generation, promote the use of reusable, compostable, and recyclable materials within the Borough of West Chester, and to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the Borough of West Chester.

Meanwhile, “Plastic-bag ban introduced in Council,” by Frank Kummer and Ellie Rushing, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/21/19 is about our neighbor to the east, Philadelphia:

A sweeping ban on single-use plastic bags was introduced Thursday in Philadelphia City Council in a bill that would also impose a relatively hefty 15-cent fee on any recyclable paper bag or other reusable bags a merchant might provide to a customer.

The ban, if adopted, would apply to supermarkets, convenience stores, service stations, department stores, dollar stores, clothing stores, restaurants, food trucks, farmers’ markets, dry cleaners, and delivery service.

That means you won’t be able to get a plastic bag to hold your goods at ShopRite, Wawa, or Macy’s without paying extra for it. The money collected from the fee would go to the merchant, not the city.

The bill, crafted by Councilman Mark Squilla, would make Philadelphia’s ban a hybrid of similar ordinances around the region and country, because it combines both a ban and a heavier-than-usual fee. Ordinances attempting to regulate single-use plastic bags, and there are now hundreds around the U.S., typically either impose an outright ban or a 5- or 10-cent fee on the bags….

Read more at Philadelphia Inquirer