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Two New Reports Look at Impact of Single-Use Plastic Regulations

Wednesday July 1st, 2020

Act 20 of 2019 preempted municipalities from enacting bans on single-use plastics through July 1, 2020, and required the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to evaluate the “environmental impact and any impact upon residents of this Commonwealth from any regulation impacting single-use plastics, reusable plastics, auxiliary containers, wrappings, or polystyrene containers.” In addition, Act 20 charged the Independent Fiscal Office with evaluating the economic impact from regulation of single-use plastics. Both reports were released yesterday. 

Note: Act 23 of 2020 extended the preemption of bans on single-use plastics to July 1, 2021, or six months after the expiration of the Governor’s disaster proclamation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, whichever is later.

  • LB&FC Report on Non-Economic Impacts: The study focused on single-use plastic bags, which are typically provided free-of-charge to shoppers in retail locations. Pennsylvania municipalities were surveyed about single-use plastics regulations. Respondents were evenly split — 39.1 percent replied “yes” and 39.6 percent said “no” on whether plastic bag bans and fees were an effective way of minimizing harmful environmental impacts. Additionally, 69 percent of respondents indicated that, if enacted, a ban/fee on single-use plastic should be implemented at the state level. Click here to view the full report.  
  • IFO Report on Economic Impacts: The focus of the report was narrowed to the regulation of plastic retail bags, specifically looking at three policy options: a ban, a fee, and ban-plus-fee. The report found that a ban would eliminate the demand for roughly 3 billion light-weight plastic bags (LWPBs); a fee (10 cents per bag) would eliminate the demand for 1.4 billion LWPBs and is the most efficient option as it would motivate strong consumer response but allow retailers to provide the lowest cost bag option; and finally, a ban-plus-fee would eliminate the demand for roughly 3 billion LWPBs, but increase demand for all other bag types. Also, the report found that changes in consumer and retail bag costs would affect manufacturers and other firms in the supply chain. Click here to view the full report.