Businesses caught violating Philadelphia’s plastic bag law

Media Contacts


New research: retailers defying newly enacted ban


PHILADELPHIA — Two months after Philadelphia’s citywide ban on plastic bags went into effect, new research by the nonprofit group PennEnvironment found chronic violations by retailers throughout the city. At a news conference Wednesday, PennEnvironment spotlighted specific businesses breaking this law, including Walmart, CVS, ACME, The Home Depot and even the state-owned Fine Wine and Good Spirits. The law was designed to eliminate the use of hundreds of millions of plastic bags that pollute the city.

In all, PennEnvironment staff and volunteers visited more than 50 retail locations to investigate if they’re complying with the single-use plastic bag ban. More than 50% of the investigated locations violated the ordinance, with 27 stores still providing illegal plastic bags according to the city’s law. Some of those retailers, such as Sprouts Farmers Market on South Broad near Washington Avenue, were giving out thicker plastic bags with a misleading “reusable” label on them.

“They’re used once, for just a few minutes, and from there they end up as litter polluting our city and our environment”, said Faran Savitz, the Conservation Associate at PennEnvironment. “They’re not, as they claim, providing a reusable solution to single-use bags. They’re feeding the problem and making it worse.”

Philadelphia’s ordinance forbids any plastic bag made through a “blown-film extrusion” process, regardless of its thickness. It requires a broad set of retailers to comply, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, restaurants, clothing stores, convenience stores, service stations, food trucks, farmers markets and delivery services.

Philadelphians are asked to dial 311 to report businesses violating the ordinance. Reports go to the Philadelphia Department of License and Inspection, which issues warnings to noncompliant companies. Starting April 1, 2022, L&I will impose fines for violations.

“We cannot let companies run roughshod over Philadelphia’s environmental laws,” noted Savitz.

“It’s critical to hold businesses accountable when they are violating our laws and harming our environment, communities and quality of life.” 

A recording of the event can be found at:


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, or to learn more about any of our issues visit