Cheltenham Township moves forward with plastic ban

Cheltenham businesses and residents will be given a little over a year to prepare for a single-use plastic ban instituted by the Township.

The ordinance will be implemented beginning January 1, 2024, with a 30-90 day amendment period.

“I’m enthusiastic and excited about it,” Commissioner Ann Rappoport said. “It’ll take some adjusting, but that’s why we’re giving everyone a year to get used to it.”

The ordinance proposed by the Township’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) is similar to other proposals of its kind, officials said.

“If we can get this underway and begin to change behavior, we may be able to make enhancements down the line,”  township solicitor Ed Diasio said. “This is a good start and we can tweak the ordinance as we move forward.”

Exemptions for take-out and delivery food were considered during a December 7 Building and Zoning Committee meeting.

“A number of restauranteurs have already moved toward paper bags,” Commissioner Baron Holland said. “I don’t know that it’ll be that much of a hardship for businesses. Larger entities have been moving in this direction, and we’re seeing a trickle-down effect.”

“I’m fully in support of the ordinance, but I have a concern about the fact that not all townships have passed this. I want to be careful that we’re not imposing any hardships on township businesses so that they’re losing business,” Daniel Norris, Board President, said. “I don’t think the ordinance harms our businesses, and gives them a chance to generate revenue through the sales of reusable bags. I like the ordinance as its written.”

Jeffrey Plaut, EAC member, noted the costs of inaction.

“There’s a terrible cost to the township if we don’t do this. The litter is unattractive and unhealthy, so there are costs in those respects. There are also extraordinary costs if the pollutants get into the waystreams. That costs residents money,” Plaut said. “Processing our refuse is costly.”

“We’re trying to encourage people to bring their own bags and use reasonable alternatives,” Faran Savitz, Penn Environment, said.