Tag Archives: West Chester

Virtual forum on environmental topics with candidates for West Chester Mayor and Borough Council April 27

Non-partisan virtual forum on environmental topics with candidates for West Chester Mayor and Borough Council, sponsored by League of Women Voters of Chester County, West Chester NAACP, and West Chester Green Team, on Tuesday, April 27, at 7pm. RSVP here to get your personal signup link.

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

Happy Earth Month!

West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley has officially proclaimed April 2021 as Earth Month in the Borough of West Chester PA. Please see the Chesco Environment Calendar for environment/sustainability events this month, including many in the Borough.

Download pdf of the proclamation here.

West Chester, Phila et al. sue PA legislature over “ban on bans”

from PennEnvironment, 3/3/21

PA cities’ lawsuit to undo General Assembly’s preemption crucial to addressing plastic pollution

Municipalities must be empowered to address pollution issues when legislature won’t For Immediate Release Wednesday, March 3, 2021

image from West Chester Plastic-Free Please Action Group vigil, 2/14/20

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia joined with the municipalities of Lower Merion, Narberth (Montgomery County) and West Chester (Chester County) to file a lawsuit Wednesday against Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. The suit claims the legislature unconstitutionally enacted a preemption law that strips the ability of local communities and officials across the commonwealth to implement ordinances addressing waste and litter from single-use plastics. 

This action comes as mounting data shows that plastic pollution has significant negative effects on our health and environment. Notably, a report released this week by PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center found microplastic contamination existed in 100 percent of water samples taken from more than 50 of Pennsylvania’s most popular rivers, lakes and streams

PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur issued the following statement

read more at PennEnvironment

New recycling regs in West Chester Borough

Every Chesco municipality has its own recycling rules, which evolve. It would be much easier for consumers if countywide rules applied to everyone! Since China cut off its imports of US recyclables, the market in t\he US has been in a turmoil and costs have risen. Aluminum is actually the only remunerative recyclable product right now, but it is helpful to keep others out of the trash, and grants help defray costs of recycling as opposed to trash.

You can check applicable rules on your municipality’s web site; below are those for West Chester Borough, just updated. Note that plastics #3-7 are off the list, meaning we have to trash the flexible containers that products like salad greens, “buttery” spread and hummus come in. The best solution always is: use the least plastic you can!

Recyclable Items

Recycling in West Chester follows the same schedule as trash collection. The Borough’s recycling program is a single-stream, curbside collection program. This means that the following recyclables may be mixed together in your blue 20-gallon recycling container:

  • Aluminum beverage cans
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Cardboard
  • Clean aluminum foil and take out containers
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Mixed paper (i.e. newspaper, junk mail, office paper, etc.)
  • Rigid plastic containers, bottles, & jugs #1-2 
  • Steel food and beverage cans

The following items are NOT accepted in the Borough’s Recycling Program:

  • Any plastics that are not labeled #1-2 (ex: children’s toys)
  • Plastic bags – they cannot be separated from commingled recycling 
  • Polystyrene (i.e. Styrofoam)
  • Pizza boxes contaminated with food/grease. You may removed the top portion of the box if it is not contaminated & place it in your bin. The bottom portion should be placed in your trash can.
  • Waxed cardboard (i.e. frozen food packaging, coffee cups, etc.)
  • Hazardous Materials: Paint, Flourescent bulbs, motor oil bottles, etc.)

Recycling Containers

Recycling containers cost $10 per container and can be purchased at the Public Works Department, 205 Lacey St. There is no limit to the amount of recycling you may put out each week, so we encourage you to purchase extra bins if needed. Remember to print your address on the container in the space provided. Residents may also choose to use their own containers for recycling. Containers must be no larger than 30-gallons in size, be clearly marked for recycling and have drainage holes in the bottom to prevent standing water from collecting.

Helpful Links

Chester County Solid Waste Authority
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Earth 911

Friends of Sustainable West Chester

Here’s a great new initiative from West Chester Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee: to put together a network of volunteers who can help SAC research different topics and inform the public. This aligns closely with the West Chester Green Team’s aspirations!

Here is the official description:

The Sustainability Advisory Committee established Friends of Sustainable West Chester consisting of volunteers working to further sustainability initiatives in the Borough. The group serves three primary purposes:

• Create issue-focused teams to supplement the SAC’s work on key areas (e.g. energy, stormwater, recycling)
• Broaden citizen awareness and involvement in Borough sustainability initiatives
• Recruit future SAC leadership

Efforts of each team are coordinated by a 2nd year SAC member. Activities will be limited to research, organization of events or initiatives, and volunteering time and resources. There are no standing meetings.

Click here to join Friends of Sustainable West Chester.

Membership is subject to SAC approval.

West Chester’s Goose Creek fire of 1931

In the recent Earth Day commemorations, commentators mentioned the infamous 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, which although hardly the first time the chemically-polluted surface of that river in Cleveland caught fire, was strategically timed to dramatize environmental efforts building at that time toward the first Earth Day the next year.

West Chester had its own river fire and environmental 9/11 89 years ago. Goose Creek, which flows through the east side of West Chester on its way to the Delaware River, caught fire on September 11, 1931. According to research by Professor Jim Jones in 2006,

“A road paving company stored tar and other flammable materials in tanks near the creek at Union Street. One tank leaked, and some neighborhood boys accidentally set fire to the resulting oil slick near the Nields Street bridge. The fire spread upstream along the creek and burned down fences and sheds belonging to the houses on Franklin Street. The heat destroyed the Lacey Street bridge and the flames ignited the tanks at Union Street. The fire burned for three hours and closed down the railroad. No one was killed, but several were injured when the crowd of onlookers panicked and began to run.”

Daily Local News coverage of the fire compiled by Professor Jones (download it here) says, in the dramatic language of the period:

“Confronted by a roaring fury of flames and enveloped in billowing clouds of dense black smoke, fear-stricken householders, property owners and volunteer firemen from every end of town and every walk of life, battled into submission one of the most spectacular and dangerous fires in the history of the borough.”

Jim comments that “I was part of the annual Goose Creek cleanups for a lot of years. In the first year Goose Creek still seemed pretty dead, but I remember seeing our first fish a year or two later, and then seeing larger fish each year after that. At the same time, the amount of trash that we collected went down, leading to the formula ‘Trash weight down = fish weight up.'”

Yes, streams like Goose Creek are a lot cleaner now, thanks to initiatives begun in the 1960s and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) enacted on 1/1/70. Only continued efforts, in West Chester and elsewhere, to keep such programs viable will continue protecting environmental and human health and safety.

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:

CleanGreenEvent

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

Exemptions

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.

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.