Residents Petition Borough Council To Ban Plastic Bags

Residents presented a petition to the State College Borough Council asking for an ordinance that would essentially ban single-use plastic bags in the Borough. The petition gained support from 144 residents within the Borough, which David Stone gave to council Tuesday night at its regular meeting.

The proposal calls for an ordinance to be passed by November 1, requiring a “tax” of $.25 per single-use plastic bag. $.10 of this would be returned to the Borough to be earmarked for environmental protection and education, while $.15 would be left for the business to help with administrative costs of the program and any funds leftover for environmental causes.

Brown paper bags made of 100 percent recycled material would be allowed, but shoppers would be encouraged to use reusable bags made of cotton, cloth, and canvas bags. Businesses will also be encouraged to sell these bags.

Enforcement of the proposed ordinance would begin May 1, 2019, if the petitioners have their way. They believe this will give ample time for businesses and shoppers to become familiar with the new regulations, using signage at cash registers to inform shoppers about the legislation and the issues of plastic bag use.

Sam Anawalt, the student sustainability coordinator for Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and director of the EcoCoin program, said he hadn’t previously heard about the petition. However, he’s not so sure the proposal is right for State College.

“Most people look at paper as the environmentally friendly option, but it actually is a much more resource intensive product to manufacture,” Anawalt said, “so having paper alternatives isn’t really too much of a change on environmental impact besides the fact that they will decompose quicker.”

Anawalt says plastic bag taxes can be effective, but that other areas have seen significant results from lower taxes like only $.05 or $.10 per bag. Conversely, the EcoCoin program provides a $.05 incentive from Barnes & Noble that shoppers at the Penn State Bookstore and Market East are able to donate to a student-supported cause of their choice.

Borough staff collected hard copies of the signed petition presented for the record; council didn’t discuss the proposal further. The next Borough Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 1.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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