Abington & Cheltenham: Watershed Communities Say No to Plastic

Jamilee Hoffman
Nov 21, 2023

philly plastic bag ban

By Julie Slavet, Executive Director

Whatever is on the land is in the water.

We remove lots of plastic bags from our streets, trees, and creeks. Plastics production adds to global warming. The need for oil impacts our foreign policy. There are so many reasons why we need to reduce our use of plastics.

We have provided free reusable, recycled shopping bags at our events for many years, and do not use or distribute plastic bags or bottles.

TTF has always supported efforts by our watershed municipalities to limit the use of plastic, starting with the bag ban Philadelphia adopted in 2019 and implemented in 2021. With similar actions in Abington and Cheltenham, we look forward to a watershed that becomes cleaner each year!

We were proud to work with a number of partners including the Cheltenham Environmental Advisory Council and Penn Environment on plastic bag legislative opportunities for Cheltenham Township, and are so pleased that the Commissioners adopted a plastic bag ordinance in April.  The prohibition on plastic bags which will go into effect in January 2024.

We are also excited that Abington Township is also considering an ordinance, and held a meeting in October providing information and resident feedback on the proposed Single-Use Plastics and Polystyrene Products Ban Ordinance.

Effective January 1, 2024, retailers in Cheltenham Township will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags at point of sale. 

All commercial establishments in Cheltenham Township that provide bags for retail purchases will be required to comply, including takeout food and/or delivery items.

Why is the Township taking this measure?

By promoting the use of reusable and recyclable materials, the Township endeavors to curb litter, protect its local waterways and wildlife, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the generation of waste that ends up in landfills, and reduce contamination of the recycling stream.

What bags can still be used?

Retailers may provide a recycled paper bag for a fee of not less than $.10, or a reusable cloth/fabric or polypropylene bag for a charge established by the retailer.


  • laundry and dry-cleaning bags
  • newspaper bags
  • food storage, garbage, or pet waste bags sold in multiples in manufacturer’s package
  • bags used to bring perishable items (meat/fish, candy/nuts, fruits/vegetables, bakery items) to point of sale
  • bags used to contain live animals such as fish/insects at a pet store
  • bags associated with the delivery of goods by mail or similar transportation carrier (UPS/FedEx/Amazon)

Compliance & Signage

Businesses must post signage at point-of-sale informing customers about this change by January 30, 2024 and for 6 months after.  Businesses can also prepare for this transition by posting signage at the entrance that reminds customers to bring their reusable bags into the establishment.  To help businesses comply with this provision, the Township has created this sign for printing or pick-up at the Township building.

Businesses are required to be fully compliant with the ban no later than April 1, 2024.  After this date, businesses will be subject to fines.

The full text of Ordinance 2453-23 can be found here.

FOR BUSINESSES: See this list of Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses compiled by the Environmental Advisory Council.

The Environmental Advisory Council compiled a list of vendors that source compliant bags.  Note that this list is a resource but does not constitute endorsement by the Township.

FOR CONSUMERS: See this list of Frequently Asked Questions geared to consumers.

This initiative was passed by the Board of Commissioners in April 2023.  Information on the ban was included in the Township’s spring newsletter, annual calendar, and school tax bill insert flyer

The above language is from the Cheltenham Township website.

On Monday, October 23, Abington Township’s Environmental Advisory Council and the Office of the Township Manager held an administrative public information meeting in the Abington Township Building on the proposal of a Single-Use Plastics and Polystyrene Products Ban Ordinance.

During the meeting, the Council presented information on their recommendation, answered questions, and collected feedback from the public.

Abington residents are invited to take a survey on this potential plastic bag ban online here.


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