Allegheny County County Council Investigates the Harms of Single-Use Plastics

Councilmembers heard from PennEnvironment and other experts about the health and environmental harms of plastics, as well as the policy solutions to cut off this waste at the source

Allegheny County Plastic Hearing Anita Prizio Erika Strassburger photo with audience
Staff | TPIN
More than 40 people attended in person and virtually, including municipal leaders, activists, and reporters.

PennEnvironment recently collaborated with Allegheny County Council to organize a hearing on single-use plastic waste. The hearing provided background about the health and environmental harms of plastic products, local data on litter, and policy solutions that can reduce plastic waste at the source. PennEnvironment’s Zero Waste Advocate, Faran Savitz discussed our research-backed model ordinance that has been used as the foundation for more than a dozen municipal bag bans across Pennsylvania.

In addition to PennEnvironment’s Faran Savitz, speakers included Pittsburgh Councilperson Erika Strassburger; Myrna Newman, Executive Director of Allegheny Cleanways; and Dr. Sherri Mason, the Director of Sustainability at Penn State Erie. The presentations revealed that Pennsylvanians use roughly 4.75 billion single-use plastic bags annually, of which less than 2% are ever recycled. Allegheny Cleanways reported that they remove about 4 tons of plastic from our riverfronts every year. And Dr. Mason, an expert on freshwater plastic pollution, noted that microplastics are found just about everywhere on earth and can have significant impacts on human health.

Allegheny County Plastic Hearing Anita Prizio Erika Strassburger photo with slides
Staff | TPIN
Members of Allegheny County Council look on as Pittsburgh City Councilperson Erika Strassburger outlines the process of passing the city’s upcoming ban on single-use plastic bags.

Video of the full hearing is now available on our website. So far, 15 Pennsylvania municipalities have adopted bag ban ordinances representing 16% of the Commonwealth’s population, preventing more than 780 million bags from entering our waste stream annually. For tools that can help your municipality join Pennsylvania’s growing consensus against single-use plastic products, check out PennEnvironment’s Action Toolkit. And if you are a local leader interested in pursuing legislation to rein in plastic pollution, please reach out to [email protected] and [email protected].

Media Clips from allegheny county plastic hearing PennEnvironment
Staff | TPIN
The hearing earned various media coverage including from Pittsburgh Magazine, WESA, PCNC, and the Pittsburgh City Paper.

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