Zero Waste Advocate, PennEnvironment
Zero Waste Advocate, PennEnvironment
Ordinance expected to reduce plastic bag usage by 5.9 million bags annually and decrease litter
[West Norriton, PA] – Last night, the West Norriton Board of Commissioners unanimously passed Ordinance NO. 2022-757, which will take crucial steps to reduce plastic bag use in this Montgomery County township.
Through this action, West Norriton became the 13th municipality in Pennsylvania and the third in Montgomery County to pass legislation to ban single-use plastic bags in the growing effort to rein in plastic pollution. PennEnvironment estimates that over 5.9 million single-use plastic bags are used in West Norriton each year, equivalent to 32.6 tons of plastic.
West Norriton’s Ordinance NO. 2022-757 sets strong standards for halting the sale or distribution of single-use plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies, corner stores, and other retailers in the township. It also requires that paper bags consist of at least 40% recycled post-consumer content, puts a $0.15 fee on all other bags, and sets stringent fines for retailers who violate the law. The ban goes into effect on Earth Day 2023 (April 22, 2023) so retailers will have an adjustment period before they have to do away with plastic.
Plastic pollution is one of the most common forms of litter, and plastic bags in particular pose a great harm to the environment. Plastic bags in our environment can choke animals, clog stormwater infrastructure exacerbating the effects of flooding or heavy rainfall, and break down into microplastics which accumulate toxic chemicals. This action comes on the heels of a new report that found microplastics in 50 of Pennsylvania’s cleanest rivers and streams, including the nearby Valley Creek.
PennEnvironment’s Zero Waste Advocate Faran Savitz issued the following statement in response to the announcement:
“PennEnvironment applauds the West Norriton Board of Commissioners for passing this ordinance and making the township a statewide leader in the fight against plastic pollution. This new ordinance is a big step forward in the effort to cut unnecessary and dangerous single-use plastics out of our lives.
“Plastic bags are the poster child for the environmental harm caused by single-use plastics. Nothing we use for a few minutes, such as single-use plastic bags, should be allowed to litter our communities, pollute our environment, and fill our landfills and incinerators for hundreds of years to come. Today’s passage of Ordinance NO. 2022-757 sends a strong message that West Norriton is tired of litter and single-use plastic pollution.
“With this vote, West Norriton becomes the ninth Pennsylvania municipality to tackle plastic pollution in 2022 alone. There is a clear appetite for action at the local level and we know from experience around the country that policies like Ordinance NO. 2022-757 work. By dramatically reducing the distribution, we dramatically reduce the pollution.
“Every one of us has had the experience of watching plastic bags blowing down our streets and through our neighborhoods, seeing plastic bags stuck in curbside trees and bushes, or in our parks and other outdoor places we love. We’ve had enough. As the plastic industry continues to push harmful single-use plastics on the nation’s consumers, we’re relieved and excited that our local leaders have taken action.”
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, or to learn more about any of our issues visit www.PennEnvironment.org.