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Single-Use Plastics

Use this topic to share information and resources regarding single-use plastic in Pennsylvania.

PennEnvironment Shares Single-Use Plastics Laws in Pennsylvania - a toolkit for passing bans and other laws tackling plastics pollution and litter in your municipality

Every year, Pennsylvanians use an estimated 4.75 billion single-use plastic bags. These bags are used for just a few minutes and then thrown “away”, but there is no “away”. Plastic bags and other single-use plastics end up in landfills, incinerators, or our environment, where they can last for hundreds of years, if not longer, harming wildlife, waterways, and our health.

Since 2018, PennEnvironment has helped more than a dozen Pennsylvania municipalities write, introduce, and pass legislation tackling single-use plastics. These ordinances—from cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to townships like Radnor and Easttown—impact over 2 million Pennsylvanians and could eliminate over 8 million pounds of plastic waste every year.


This toolkit provides a set of resources for local decision makers and activists to take action in their communities to rein in plastic pollution. It includes sample legislation, reports and research on various issues, and information on local legislation passed in municipalities across Pennsylvania.

For questions, more information, or if you’d like assistance on passing plastic legislation in your community, please contact zero waste advocate Faran Savitz at [email protected].

SEPA Single Use Plastics Coalition

The Southeastern PA Single Use Plastics Coalition is a 50 township and growing network of EAC members that are all working towards eliminating single use plastics from our townships. Already, 19 townships in our area have passed ordinances. We meet every other month on zoom. We usually have the zero-waste advocate from Penn Environment and a representative from the Clean Air Council in the meetings as well. We share stories of successes and ongoing challenges and discuss general issues like exemptions, alternatives to plastics, fees for a paper bag, restaurants, equity for disadvantaged community members, education, and how to approach boards. We also have a large google welcome kit and repository of information and ordinances and signage.

I encourage you to contact me if you’d like to have information and support for banning single use plastics in your township. Email Richard Metz, chair at [email protected] if you'd like a zoom link to our next meeting. You can be from anywhere in Pennsylvania.

5 Gyres Institute Releases Report on Biomaterial Breakdown

Promising research continues to emerge around solutions, including alternative materials to single-use plastic. However, labels like “compostable” and “biodegradable” are misleading and lack transparency about what happens if products and packaging end up in the environment. Better Alternatives 3.0 offers greater transparency around these novel materials, their real-world behavior in the environment, and considerations that should be made before the widespread adoption of bioplastics in all sectors of society.

The 64-week study tested 22 items, made of different polymers and blends, in six environments across Florida, California, and Maine. Traditional fossil fuel-based plastics were persistent in all environments, but there was a wide range in degradation rates for bioplastics.


Learn More about 5 Gyres

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