PennEnvironment Celebrates Implementation of Pittsburgh Bag Ban

Media Contacts

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2023

For More Information:

Ashleigh Deemer, Deputy Director, [email protected], (724) 316-5853
Faran Savitz, Zero Waste Advocate, [email protected], (347) 563-1406

Pittsburgh —  On Saturday October 14th, the City of Pittsburgh’s ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect, ushering in a new era of less waste, and less plastic pollution and litter in the region. The law prohibits retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags, and it requires retailers to charge a minimum of $0.10 per paper bag to incentivize the use of reusable bags instead of any disposable bag option. Pennsylvania now has 24 such municipal policies in place, with Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passing its bag ban on April 12, 2022. Pittsburgh is the first municipality to implement such a law outside of the Philadelphia region.  

Ashleigh Deemer, deputy director of PennEnvironment, released the following statement:

“Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to litter our communities and pollute our environment for centuries. That’s why it’s been so exciting to see Pittsburgh’s ban on single-use plastic bags take shape. From helping City Council draft the bill, to building public and business support for its passage, and now seeing Mayor Gainey’s administration take the reins and implement it, PennEnvironment has been proud to partner with city officials in this effort.

A recent analysis of Philadelphia’s ban on single-use plastic bags found a 93% reduction in plastic bag use and a 90% rise in the number of shoppers using a reusable bag. Pittsburghers use an estimated 110 million single-use plastic bags annually, so we know that replicating Philadelphia’s results will have a profound and immediate positive impact on litter in the city, and go a long way toward protecting our rivers and streams from this type of plastic pollution.” 

Single-use plastic bags break down in the environment, but never fully go away, turning instead into microscopic pieces of plastic called microplastics. Microplastics are often ingested by wildlife, causing suffocation and starvation. They also attract other pollutants in the environment, concentrating dangerous toxins and delivering them to the wildlife that eat them. PennEnvironment has studied this issue and found the presence of microplastics in 100% of the samples we collected from more than 100 of Pennsylvania’s iconic and pristine waterways. 

Beginning on October 14th, customers can contact the City of Pittsburgh 311 Response Center to report a business that is not in compliance with this law. You can see more information about the bag ban on the City of Pittsburgh’s website


PennEnvironment is a statewide citizen-based non-profit environmental advocacy organization working to promote clean air, clean water, and protect our open spaces. To learn more about our work to tackle the threat of single-use plastics, visit our Beyond Plastic page, and our Single-Use Plastic Laws in Pennsylvania toolkit. 

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