Answering the remaining questions on Pittsburgh’s plastic bag ban

PITTSBURGH — Does the plastic bag ban apply to just within the city limits? What about businesses outside the city that have a Pittsburgh mailing address?

Pittsburgh’s plastic bag ban has been in effect for less than two weeks and there’s still a lot of confusion, and 11 at 11 wanted to get you answers.

We are seeing businesses outside of the city limits charging the 10-cent bag fee like McDonald’s in Bethel Park, or Walgreens in Ross Township with signs saying no more plastic bags.

“This applies only to stores and retailers within the city limits,” councilmember Erika Strassburger explained. “If you are outside the city limits, regardless of your zip code. you do not have to adhere to this.”

The city explained, saying that even though it’s not mandated, “Stores operating outside of city limits may voluntarily decide to remove plastic bags from their operations or begin to charge for paper bags, but they are not mandated to do so by the City of Pittsburgh. Some reasons stores may be implementing these changes outside of city limits include: to meet their own sustainability goals and to remain consistent across regional operations as their stores within the city have to comply”

Does this apply even to food trucks or farmers’ markets? Strassburger says it does.

But, there are exceptions, for items such as meats, seafood or produce where there is a risk of contamination plastic bags are still allowed.

Dry cleaner bags are also exempt, as well as food that is not fully wrapped.

The city of Pittsburgh has a map on its website for a business to check if it’s within the city limits and mandated to follow the rule. Businesses have a grace period until January 1 to comply with with the new rule.

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