CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A fee or even ban on plastic bags could be coming to our area.
This comes after the preemptive legislation that once prohibited any ban on single use plastics, wasn’t renewed in last week’s passed state budget.
The mayor of State College Ron Filippeli, calls the new legal authority “a complicated issue,” with the problem stemming from the lack of action in surrounding townships.
“So for example if you pass an ordinance like that in State College, people have to buy plastic bags and there’s some disincentive for using plastic bags which is monetary, then you’re putting State College merchants at a disadvantage unless every other surrounding suburban township did the same,” said Filippelli.
Aware that cutting back on plastic bags would help the environment, the mayor says there’s a lot of other factors the borough has to consider, like their merchants and residents.
“Personally I’d like to see us get rid of plastic bags,” said Filippelli.
Ferguson Township got a sense of where their community stood on the matter back in 2018, when they drafted up an ordinance for a fee to be put on single-use plastic bags.
“Some were supportive, some were in very much opposition to these regulations or proposed regulations. And others were more just curious wanting to know how it would impact their business model and wanting to know what the affect would be on what their operations are,” said Borough Manager David Pribulka.
While the conversation was put on hold due to the statewide preemption, Pribulka says he expects that it will be brought up again, as residents who initially brought the need to his attention, have kept it on the borough’s radar.
“But we will be sensitive to everyone and consider all angles,” said Pribulka.
According to Pribulka, if a fee or even ban is revisited, it would be carried out in an incremental process.
Over in Philadelphia, the city is already beginning the soft rollout of its ban on retailers giving out plastic bags to customers, as Pennsylvania’s two-year-old prohibition on such bans is set to expire later this year.
The city won’t fully enforce the ban until April 1 with steps in between. On Oct. 1, retailers are to stop giving out the bags.
In the meantime, the state Legislature hasn’t extended the prohibition in place since 2019.
Senate Republicans said they have no plans to extend the statewide prohibition, but they will evaluate it in the coming months. PennEnvironment, an environmental advocacy group, says the state prohibition expires Dec. 8.
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