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Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erika Strassburger introduced a bill that would ban plastic bags in the city. Photo: Pixabay 
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erika Strassburger introduced a bill that would ban plastic bags in the city. Photo: Pixabay 

Pittsburgh may pursue a plastic bag ban similar to Philadelphia’s

The city of Pittsburgh may soon have a plastic bag ban similar to Philadelphia’s, which took two years to implement.

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Pennsylvania’s second largest city of Pittsburgh may soon pass a ban on single-use plastic bags. 

The ban would be similar to the ban implemented in Philly this past July, other bans presented in a number of other cities.

Legislation introduced last Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, will disallow Pittsburgh shoppers from using plastic bags at the retail and grocery checkout line.

The ban removes the usage of plastic bags in retail and grocery stores altogether. Retailers will be expected to provide reusable paper bags for a 15-cent fee.

The ban would eliminate the usage of all plastic bags apart from plastic bags used for meat, poultry and fish, bags used at dry cleaners and pharmacies, and bags used for pet waste.

The ban will not go into immediate effect, and is instead expected to take 180 days to six months to go into effect if passed. 

Traditionally, it takes three weeks post-introduction to proceed past legislation.

Philadelphia’s own plastic bag ban took approximately two years to be fully implemented, resulting from a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erika Strassburger — who first introduced the legislation — spoke on the possible ban: 

“Once we have single-use plastic bags under control, we can’t stop there. Then it’s time to turn our attention to all the other ways we might use an item for an average of five minutes, 10 minutes and then throw it away and not think about it again,” she said.

Strassburger expects the council to take a few weeks to facilitate additional discussion between officials and the public. 

The councilwoman believes the ban will lead to a healthier and more sustainable future in Pittsburgh. If legislation were to pass, fees for non-compliant businesses would need to be set. 

A PennEnvironment study shows that many popular waterways in Pittsburgh are currently polluted with microplastics known to potentially cause cancer and hormone disruption.

This type of pollution adds to the amount Pennsylvanians pay each year in funding pollution clean up. The legislation is also aiming to resolve these high costs.

Across the state in Philly, for the time being, businesses have only been issued warnings for non-compliant behavior. Warnings will proceed through until nine months past July’s original introduction.

The ban is expected to cause pushback from some shoppers. Providing reusable bags to patrons is one proposed solution.

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