Why Has Pittsburgh Postponed its Ban On Single-Use Plastic Bags?

City pushes back start date to Oct. 14 to ensure a successful rollout.
Shutterstock 1090356905


Pittsburghers will have a few more months before they have to start using reusable bags in the city. 

City officials announced March 23 that they have pushed back the enforcement of the single-use plastic bag ban to Oct. 14.

It had been set to go into effect April 12, a year after City Council unanimously approved the ban aimed at reducing the distribution of nearly 110 million bags annually at grocery stores, restaurants and other retailers. Pittsburgh now joins more than a dozen municipalities in the commonwealth in passing this kind of legislation, which had been proposed by Councilmember Erika Strassburger.

The move was postponed to help ensure a successful rollout of the ban, city officials said. As part of the updated amendment to the legislation, the city has shifted the date when businesses would be required to post visible notices of the upcoming single-use plastic ban to 90 days before Oct. 14.

“It is critical for the success of this major initiative that the city is prepared to best help businesses and consumers make the transition,” said Mayor Ed Gainey in a press release. “This extra time will allow us to do the work to be able to enact this policy with proper guidance for everyone in order to make this as smooth as possible for all of us.

This updated amendment to the legislation also adds new details to the ban, including:  

  • A requirement that the City launch and maintain a webpage dedicated to providing public information on the policy;  
  • Directing the Department of Public Works to cultivate and share lists of distributors for both compliant paper bags and reusable bags; 
  • Creating a three-step sanctions framework in which inspectors can issue written warnings for initial violations, followed by escalating fines. 

The ordinance primarily impacts retailers and restaurants. Paper bags may be distributed at a cost of at least 10 cents per bag, and they must consist of at least 40% recycled post-consumer content. 

Shoppers who use cards or vouchers from either the Woman, Infants and Children program or an EBT transfer card will be exempted from the 10-cent fee.

The ordinance also requires the city to develop a public education and business assistance plan to help with the transition, as well as a plan to distribute reusable bags to Pittsburgh residents. 

City officials are encouraging businesses and consumers to begin going plastic-free ahead of the October deadline.  


Categories: The 412