Request for proposals: Services Delivered to the City of Philadelphia, Plastic Bag Ban Evaluation

Issued by:

The City of Philadelphia, Managing Director’s Office, Office of Transportation,
Infrastructure, and Sustainability

Statement of Purpose:

The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS)
seeks a qualified consultant to support an evaluation of the impact of the City’s plastic bag
ban on shoppers’ bag use behavior before and after the ban goes into effect on July 2, 2020.

The primary goal of this study is to measure and understand the effect of the ban on
the choices shoppers make about what bag to use, if any, at checkout. This will inform
future policy development related to regulation of the provision of shopping bags provided
to customers by businesses.

Department Overview:

The Managing Director’s Office (MDO) works in coordination with individual operating
departments to implement the Mayor’s vision and deliver efficient, effective, and
responsive public services to every neighborhood in Philadelphia. OTIS oversees the
Streets Department, Water Department, Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, and the Office of
Sustainability and coordinates policy, planning, and decision-making among the entities
that manage local transportation and utilities infrastructure.

Project Background:

In December 2019, Philadelphia passed a law that bans businesses from providing single
use plastic shopping bags and non-recycled paper shopping bags to customers. The law
aims to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags and to cut down the use of
single-use plastic bags, which account for significant proportions of the litter in our streets
and waterways as well as contaminant in the City’s recycling system.

The bill also calls for a study of the impact of the ban in order to assess whether the policy
is working as intended and if changes are required in order to achieve its goals.
GovLabPHL, under the Mayor’s Office of Policy, Legislation, and Intergovernmental Affairs,
is collaborating with OTIS, the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, the Department of Licenses
and Inspection, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Commerce to
design this evaluation. GovLabPHL is an initiative focused on elevating the practical use of
data and evidence in city government. The full evaluation will assess three components of
impact: 1) compliance with the law, 2) environmental impact, and 3) change in individuals’
bag use behavior. The evaluation of compliance and environmental impact will be done
internally, using data that is already being collected or can feasibly be collected through
existing processes. Because evaluating individual bag usage cannot be done with existing
data or processes and therefore requires a new and likely time-intensive data collection
effort, this component of the evaluation requires the services of a consultant.

To evaluate the impact of plastic bag bans or fees on bag usage, other cities have collected
data through observations at stores. Research assistants stationed at store checkout
record the number and types of bags shoppers use. To ensure enough data is collected for
meaningful analysis, the total number of observations would likely need to number in the
tens of thousands. Evaluators then compare changes over time, in some cases between
stores both inside and outside the jurisdiction where the bag policy is in effect.

General Disclaimer of the City:

This RFP does not commit the City of Philadelphia to award a contract. This RFP and the
process it describes are proprietary to the City and are for the sole and exclusive benefit of
the City. No other party, including any Applicant, is intended to be granted any rights
hereunder. Any response, including written documents and verbal communication, by any
Applicant to this RFP, shall become the property of the City and may be subject to public
disclosure by the City, or any authorized agent of the City.

Scope of Work:

OTIS and GovLabPHL are seeking a consultant to support the evaluation of the impact
of banning certain kinds of shopping bags on individuals’ bag use behavior. The
consultant will collaborate with GovLabPHL to design and plan the evaluation, and will be
responsible for: hiring and training research assistants to collect data, managing
observational data collection across three time periods, and conducting data entry and
cleaning. Depending upon the applicant’s proposal, the scope of work may also include
data analysis and collaboration with GovLabPHL to write a final evaluation report.
Primary outcomes of interest and data collection sources are outlined below (to be
finalized in collaboration with selected consultant during the planning phase and prior to
any data collection):


Change in individuals’ bag usage behavior:

  • Change in usage of reusable bags
  • Change in usage of paper bags
  • Change in usage of disposable plastic bags


  • Observations of shoppers’ bag usage at a sampling of stores in and outside of Philadelphia at 3 points in time (pre-ban, shortly after implementation, 12 months after implementation)
  • Possible additional data sources: retail scanner data analysis of sales of substitute plastic products (e.g. trash bags); shopper survey

Note: there may be additional outcomes of interest (e.g. impact on shopper spending, perceptions of businesses or shoppers) to be discussed with consultants and incorporated into evaluation if feasible.

Because baseline data collection must be completed before the law goes into effect on July 2, 2020, we are seeking applicants who can begin work on this project as soon as possible.


  • Work with GovLabPHL and other partner departments to design the evaluation, including sampling method, hypotheses, and data analysis plan
  • Work with GovLabPHL to finalize data collection plan, including selecting stores and locations, identifying timeline and method for scheduling observations, and developing data collection instrument(s)
  • Hire, train, and manage team of paid research assistants to conduct observations at selected stores
  • Implement and manage data collection process at baseline, 3 months after effective date, and for a period ranging between 6 and 18 months after the effective date
  • Oversee data entry and cleaning for all three data collection periods

The scope of work may also include conducting data analysis and a report of results. Please indicate your availability and cost estimates to conduct these activities in your proposal.


  • Methodology and analysis plan, written in collaboration with GovLabPHL
  • Cleaned dataset for all observational data
  • Finalized protocol with findings (if applicable, report template provided by GovLabPHL)
  • Actionable recommendations for city policymakers (if applicable)


By submission of a proposal in response to this RFP, the Applicant agrees that it will comply
with all contract monitoring and evaluation activities undertaken by the City of Philadelphia
and with all security policies and requirements of the City.

Insurance Requirements:

As a contractor of the City of Philadelphia, the selected applicant may be required to
maintain insurance. Specific policies and minimum limit(s) will be commensurate with the
scope of work to be performed, and will be determined with the consultant once selected.
The consultant may be required to provide proof of insurance at the City’s discretion.

Submission Requirements:

To apply for this contract opportunity, applicants must submit a response to that includes the following:

  • Statement of qualifications: describe your experience and capability in providing services similar to the responsibilities required for this project
  • Brief proposal that includes 1) estimated project cost (Please note: The proposed budget should not exceed the small contract amount of $34,000); 2) your availability to start work on this project; and 3) a high-level project plan with approach, staffing, timing, milestones, and deliverable review processes. 


  • Experience designing applied research and/or policy evaluations
  • Experience managing large-scale data collection efforts for research projects
  • Effective methods for managing and delivering on time

Deadline for Submission:

This opportunity will remain open for up to two weeks from the date posted, or until the City receives a minimum of three proposals.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comment section below, and we will respond. Please do not send questions to GovLabPHL about this RFP.

2 comments on “Request for proposals: Services Delivered to the City of Philadelphia, Plastic Bag Ban Evaluation
  1. liana.dragoman says:

    QUESTION: Is the consultant responsible for hiring Research Assistants under their business or will the Research Assistants be hired as separate contractors under the City of Philadelphia?

    ANSWER: The consultant is responsible for hiring research assistants. Research assistants will not be hired as separate contractors under the City of Philadelphia.

    Thank you for your question.
    -GovLabPHL Team

  2. liana.dragoman says:

    QUESTION: Is this RFP still open?

    ANSWER: Yes, this RFP remains open. We will post a comment here and note “CLOSED” in the title when the opportunity closes.

    QUESTION: Do you have any additional information about the timing you anticipate baseline data collection needing to take place?

    ANSWER: At this time we suspect the timeline in the RFP may have to be adjusted due to the impact of COVID-19. We are currently focused on the city’s response to COVID-19. As soon as we have new information about the new timeline (for baseline data collection as well as for other components of the project), we will post them publicly.

    Thank you for your questions.
    -GovLabPHL Team

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