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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: May 6, 2020 07:40 PM
From: Representative Johnathan D. Hershey
To: All House members
Subject: Single-use Plastic Ban Prohibition
 
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to prohibit municipalities and local governments from prohibiting the use of single-use containers.
 
As the world continues to learn more about the COVID-19 virus and understand how it is transmitted, we need to do everything we can to keep the citizens of the Commonwealth healthy and safe.
 
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, private business such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons have moved to prohibit customers from bringing their own, potentially contaminated personal cups into stores.  They have instituted this change for the safety of the public, patrons, and the workers. 
 
Governor Christopher Sununu of New Hampshire and Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts have issued executive orders prohibiting reusable bags.  Their reason for the prohibition is simple: COVID-19 is just one of many pathogens that shoppers can spread, unless they wash their bags after use, which few people bother to do or even aware they should be doing.  Some studies have shown that viruses such as COVID-19 can survive on cloth tote bags for up to nine days.
 
In order to protect both their customers and employees, grocery stores across the country are prohibiting patrons from bringing their own reusable tote bags into their stores.  In fact, earlier last month both Giant Eagle and Weis Markets moved to prohibit customers from bringing reusable bags into their stores.
 
In the name of public safety, Governors, legislatures, agencies, Mayors and Councils across the country are repealing or delaying the implementation of single-use container bans or fees.  For example: ​
 
  • Philadelphia postponed their ban on single-use plastic bags until January 1, extended from July 2;
  • Maine’s legislature recently voted to put off enforcement of their state’s plastic bag prohibition until January 1, which was set to go into effect April 22;
  • New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation agreed to delay any enforcement of their plastic bag ban until at least June15;
  • In an emergency meeting, Charleston, South Carolina’s Council passed an emergency ordinance to suspend enforcement of a plastic bag ban 60 days;
  • Stamford, Connecticut’s Mayor’s announced the city’s plastic bag ban ordinance is suspended until further notice;
  • North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s City Council delayed the city’s plastic bag ban until January 1, 2022;
  • Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland) is expected to delay their plastic bag ban until January 21, 2021; and
  • The Department of Defense’s Defense Commissary Agency has banned the use of reusable bags in commissaries;
  • Denver City Council introduced legislation to delay the implementation of the city’s plastic and paper bag fee to July 2021; and
  • Seven San Francisco Bay Area counties are prohibiting residents from bringing their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home. 
We should take the necessary step to ensure Pennsylvania’s own local governments are not implementing these dangerous bans on single-use containers.  Please join me in cosponsoring this important piece of public safety legislation.