In 2007, Councilmen Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney introduced a bill to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam cups in Philadelphia as an effort to mitigate the detrimental effects these nonbiodegradable items have on the environment, such as wreaking havoc on animals and clogging sewers during major floods. Their efforts were obstructed by a huge-and successful-backlash from local grocery stores along with the Progressive Bag Affiliates (a division of American Chemistry Council) whose mission, as stated on their website, is "[to promote] the responsible use, reuse, recycling and disposal of plastic bags" yet there are still no measures that effectively reduce the littering of bags. DiCicco and Kenney proposed another ban in 2009 on noncompostable plastic bags at grocery stores and pharmacies which was thwarted by the same groups.
Pending: In December 2009, DiCicco put forward another bill that would require plastic-bag recycling bins in all megastores.
The most effective way to combat littering of plastic bags is to ban them.
According to the Worldwatch Institute:
"Weighing just a few grams and averaging a few millimeters in thickness, plastic bags might seem thoroughly innocuous-were it not for the sheer number produced. Factories around the world churned out a whopping 4-5 trillion of them in 2002, ranging from large trash bags to thick shopping totes to flimsy grocery sacks.
"Compared with paper bags, producing plastic ones uses less energy and water and generates less air pollution and solid waste. Plastic bags also take up less space in a landfill. But many of these bags never make it to landfills; instead, they go airborne after they are discarded-getting caught in fences, trees, even the throats of birds, and clogging gutters, sewers, and waterways. To avoid these impacts, the best alternative is to carry and re-use your own durable cloth bags."
Some more facts from ReusableBags.com:
-- Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are the main culprit. Once brought into existence to tote your purchases, they'll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years.
-- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
-- Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistake them for food.
Tell Mayor Nutter to step forward and take action!
According to the Worldwatch Institute: “Compared with paper bags, producing plastic ones uses less energy and water and generates less air pollution and solid waste. Plastic bags also take up less space in a landfill. But many of these bags never make it to landfills; instead, they go airborne after they are discarded—getting caught in fences, trees, even the throats of birds, and clogging gutters, sewers, and waterways. To avoid these impacts, the best alternative is to carry and re-use your own durable cloth bags.”
Plastic bags are virtually indestructible. As long as they are produced, they will be littered on our streets.
I hope that you will take this petition seriously and work to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam in Philadelphia. I understand that you are taking many measures to promote recycling and create a cleaner, environmentally conscious city—this would be a milestone in that endeavor.
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you in action soon!