On Nov. 1, PRC Executive Director Darren Spielman addressed media at a press conference announcing new research showing 84% of food trucks surveyed continue to distribute plastic bags in violation of Philadelphia’s ban.
As Philadelphia passes the two-year anniversary of the implementation of its citywide ban on single-use plastic bags, research by the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center found chronic violations by food trucks and carts throughout the city. Despite the citywide ordinance banning the distribution of these items, 84% of food carts and trucks surveyed by the organization throughout the city continue to give out single-use plastic bags to their customers. The law was designed to eliminate the use of hundreds of millions of plastic bags that pollute the city and environment.
photos courtesy of PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center
Good morning. I am Darren Spielman, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Resources Council. A nonprofit organization dedicated to the vision of a Pennsylvania where nothing is wasted.
Our efforts keep millions of pounds of materials in use and out of the trash, manage millions of gallons of stormwater, and educate thousands to steward the environment every year.
Small businesses are the heart of our local economy. They work hard to survive every day and we love them.
We are also drowning in plastic waste — waste that directly damages our health, our environment, and our waterways. We need to dramatically reduce plastic trash every way that we can. And we need as many businesses as possible to comply with the bag ban.
First – plastic is petroleum. The more we produce, the more we contribute to climate change. To reduce the amount of plastic we produce, we need to reduce the amount that we use. It is not about eliminating all plastic everywhere; that’s a trap that leads to inaction. it’s about reducing as much as we can as we quickly as we can.
Second – a huge proportion of plastic bags wind up scattered as litter. From there they break down into tiny pieces – either in land or water – and are consumed by people and animals. This directly damages our health – carcinogens, endocrine problems, direct toxicity. This is a big problem, not a small one.
Third – plastic bags are bad for recycling. Before I explain this, I want to emphasize that the best thing any of us can do is not waste in the first place. It is immeasurably better for our health and the environment to use one thing 1000 times, than to use 1000 things one time. Even if that thing, a bag or whatever it is, can be recycled.
Having said that, as we stand today, plastic bags are bad for recycling. They are really hard to recycle.
Most bags left at supermarket or hardware store drop offs wind up back in the trash because they are not clean enough, or a host of other reasons. Only a few percent of these plastic bags are recycled.
Plastic bags are also bad for recycling because they behave like little monsters in our regular curbside system. They jam up recycling machines. They contaminate curbside materials that are otherwise recyclable. Costing us tons and tons of materials and money and potential environmental benefit. And sometimes risking the safety of the people that work the machines.
We love our small businesses. They are the heart of our local economy. They work hard.
We are also drowning in plastic waste — waste that directly damages our health and our environment.
Plastic bags are bad for recycling. They contaminate our good recyclables. They jam machines. And even when dropped off at the proper place, a tiny fraction is actually recycled.
We need as many businesses as possible to comply with the ban.
If you are a small businessperson and you need help quitting plastic bags, please reach out to prc.org. We are here to help.