We can reduce single-use plastic waste and litter through smart legislation.
As part of Circular Philadelphia’s policy development process, the Food Systems Working Group has released a policy paper, Single-Use Plastic Legislation for Philadelphia: A Policy Guide, that is a comprehensive, yet digestible, well-researched paper on how to achieve single-use plastic reductions through legislation. In short, it makes the case for the why and lays out clear guidance on how to achieve this major goal.
As a first step in developing the policy paper, the working group created this flyer that explains to the public in a simple and straightforward way why we need to address single-use plastic take-out items in Philadelphia, how we can limit these items through smart legislation, and why we think this is the right time to do it. The policy concept is outlined below, and you can read more about the process of developing the full policy guide on our blog.
Did You Know?
- The Philadelphia Litter Index ranks single-use containers as the #3 most littered item on our streets.
- Philadelphians produced 30% more trash at home during the pandemic, including more to-go containers.
- Studies show that single-use plastics more easily leach plastic into our food and bodies.
- A reusable container used 1,000 times costs $5 vs. 1,000 single-use containers cost $875.
The Policy Concept
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Certain types of containers such as polystyrene containers, plastic-lined to-go coffee cups and plastic cutlery would be banned outright.
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Businesses would then be charged a fee by the City for any single-use containers that are not reusable or able to be recycled or composted in Philadelphia’s available waste management systems. Businesses that do provide reusable, compostable paper or wood*, or recyclable containers would not be charged. (*Currently, no Philadelphia composting companies take compostable plastics.)
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The fees from businesses still using single-use plastic take out food containers would then be reinvested back into enhanced waste management practices such as more trash cans, street sweeping and/or assisting businesses with making the transition to reusables.
It’s the right time for this legislation because:
Single-use plastics are one of the top environmental issues affecting our city and our planet.
Philadelphia’s recycling, composting and reusable markets are more developed today than in the past due to improved regulation, entrepreneurial innovation and consumer awareness.
The taxpayers of Philadelphia for too long have been paying for the burden of cleaning littered streets and collecting overflowing trash cans, and this legislation shifts that burden while incentivizing businesses that are doing the right thing.
But to make this concept become real legislation, we need to hear from you! Please fill out this form to voice your support for this legislation, get on our mailing list for future action and leave a comment with your thoughts or questions on the proposed legislation and information. If you’d like to contact your elected officials to urge them to support this legislation, we’ve created sample language and a directory of elected officials to make it easy for you.
Let’s reduce single use plastic in Philly together!
Voice your support and feedback for this issue in three easy steps:
Review the policy paper and use this form to voice your support for this legislation, get on our mailing list for future advocacy and send us your thoughts and comments on the proposed legislation and information.
Contact your elected officials to let them know that they should pay attention to it. We have a new mayoral administration and city council that took office in 2024, and we would like to see this legislation as an early priority. We’ve drafted sample language and created a directory of elected officials to make it easy for you to contact your representatives.
Appeal to legislators to work with the Commerce Department to develop funding ideas to start weaning Philadelphia businesses, especially under-resourced ones, off of single-use plastics. City government can start allocating money now to help businesses transition to more sustainable options. We’ve drafted sample language and created a directory of elected officials to make it easy for you to talk to legislators.