JUNE 2009

Philadelphia rejects tax on recyclable plastic grocery bags

As a result of intense opposition from commercial and consumer advocates alike, a proposed $.25 per bag tax on plastic and paper grocery bags failed on May 14 to pass the Philadelphia City Council. The tax could have added upward of $400 annually to the average family’s grocery bill.

The Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council welcomed the outcome. “We are pleased that the City of Philadelphia chose not to take a punitive approach by taxing consumers during a recession,” said Shari Jackson, director of the Progressive Bag Affiliates. “Plastic bags are fully recyclable and can be recycled at many major grocery and retail chains in Philadelphia and across the United States. Plastic bags don’t belong in roadways, they belong in the recycling bin.”

About 830 million pounds of plastic bags and product wraps were recycled in this country in 2007, representing an increase of 27 percent from just two years prior. Recycled plastic bags and product wraps are used to make many useful products, including durable backyard decks, home building products and new bags, to name a few.

Recently, the nation’s four leading makers of plastic carryout bags announced a landmark recycling goal of 40 percent recycled content, including 25 percent postconsumer material, in all plastic bags by 2015. When fully implemented, the Full Circle Recycling Initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 463 million pounds, conserve enough energy (mainly natural gas) to heat 200,000 homes, and reduce waste by 300 million pounds every year.