Single-Use Product Regulations Ordinance

Single-Use Product Ordinance

In June of 2023, Swarthmore Borough Council approved a Single-Use Product Regulations Ordinance in collaboration with Swarthmore businesses, Town Center, and the Environmental Advisory Council. 

Overview of Notable Points of the Ordinance

  • Single-use plastic checkout bags will no longer be offered to customers at Swarthmore businesses.
  • Styrofoam and other expanded polystyrene products will no longer be offered to customers.
  • Polystyrene products labeled #6 will no longer be offered to customers.
  • Businesses can provide customers a paper bag with a minimum 40% recycled content for a 10¢ fee.
  • Dry cleaners will provide a reusable garment bag option to customers.
  • Dry cleaners can provide customers with a plastic garment bag for a 10¢ fee.
  • Businesses will no longer automatically provide disposable foodware accessories, which include straws, forks, spoons, sporks, knives, chopsticks, drink stirrers, beverage spill plugs, drink sleeves, drink tops, toothpicks, napkins, novelty cocktail accessories, and condiment cups and packets.
  • Customers can request specific foodware accessories with their order or procure their own foodware accessories from a self-serve station.
  • The ordinance went into effect on January 8, 2024.
  • Enforcement and fines for violations start April 22, 2024. A Retail Establishment that violates or fails to comply with the ordinance requirements will receive an initial written warning notice. Subsequent violations will be subject to potential fines. 

Business Owners and Vendors

As part of the Single-Use Product Ordinance, businesses are required to display signage at their location until June 8, 2024 to notify customers of the ordinance. 

Swarthmore Borough has prepared a Notice to Customers flier for vendor use. Copies of the flier for vendor use can be obtained from the Borough Office during open hours of Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm. 

Enforcement of the Single-Use Product Regulations Ordinance begins on April 22, 2024.

Fines for non-compliance are as follows:

  • Fine of $50.00 for a first offense
  • Fine of $100.00 for a second offense
  • Fine of $200 for a third or any subsequent offense 

View the approved Ordinance.

Swarthmore Borough has drafted a References for Vendors guide for how to comply with the ordinance.

Vendors may apply for a hardship extension to use up existing supplies according to section 862.5 of the ordinance using this Compliant Bag Fee Extension Request form.

Please reach out to Borough Administrative Coordinator Elise O’Rourke or Manager Bill Webb with any questions at 610-543-4599.


  • Please bring a bag when shopping in Swarthmore Borough!
  • Please be patient with and supportive of vendors as they adapt to this new ordinance.


  1. The “Notice to Customers” is supposed to be posted at all points of sale for six months. Is posting in the window of the establishment acceptable?

Posting at the entrance and exit is acceptable.

  1. Regarding the “Notice to Customers”, does it need to be posted at every register?

Posting the “Notice to Customers” at all registers is recommended but not required if the Notice is alternatively posted at the entrance and exit. 

  1. Regarding the “Notice to Customers”, does it have to be posted to online platforms?

No. The “Notice to Customers” is on the Borough website. Hard copies are available at the Borough office for Retail Establishments to post as required. 

  1. Regarding Disposable Foodware Accessories, do online orders need to include a line item for these?

Yes. According to the Ordinance:

Retail Establishments must provide options for Customers to affirmatively request Disposable Foodware Accessories separately from orders for food and beverages across all ordering/point of sale platforms, including but not limited to web, smartphone, telephone and in-person.

  1. Regarding “Product Packaging” in the ordinance, what are the allowable sizes and shapes of a “bag used solely to contain small items”?

Borough Council did not set an allowable size or shape because these will vary by use. 

  1. How can customers make complaints?

Specific complaints must be made in writing to Borough Manager Bill Webb. Anonymous or verbal complaints will not be accepted.

  1. May a vendor provide compliant reusable bags to a customer at no fee?


  1. May the Farmers Market provide to the customer and/or vendor free compliant reusable bags?


  1. If a customer brings their own bag (of any type, I.e. a plastic bag), is there a fee?