CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A plan to ban the use of plastic shopping bags by retailers in Cuyahoga County was derailed by the pandemic, but county officials say the ban is back on the front burner.
The sponsor of the legislation says the environmental issues created by plastic bags cannot be ignored, and that’s why the county plans to relaunch the ban later this year.
“Plastic is a pollutant. It’s a toxin that not only impacts our drinking water, our soil, our food, our health. Every piece of plastic that was ever manufactured still exists on the planet because it does not degrade and it ends up in different forms and impacts our planet,” County Councilman Sunny Simon said.
Enforcement of the ban against retailers that continue to dispense the plastic bags is not expected to begin until the end of 2022.
Councilwoman Simon says a bill passed by state lawmakers in 2021 that prevents local governments from charging consumers for shopping bags will have no effect on the implementation of the Cuyahoga County ban.
“The state law addresses a fee on dispensing plastic bags at point of sale and that’s not what our law is. Our law just bans dispensing plastic bags, but there’s no fee attached,” said Simon.
A number of shoppers at a Giant Eagle store in Parma say they continue to prefer the convenience of the blue bags.
“I go shopping, I put it in my car, I go home, I unload, throw them in a big garbage can and that’s it,” said one shopper.
Another shopper told us, “Particularly, if you’re scanning yourself, you’d rather have the materials there rather than paying for extra stuff like recycled bags and all kind of stuff. I would rather just go with the plastic, much easier, more convenient.”
Councilwoman Simon points out that consumers will be allowed to buy plastic bags, if for instance, they need them to pick up animal waste, but will be encouraged to find alternative bags that are not plastic based.
Some cities in the county opted out of the ban when it initially was launched in 2020 and continue to have that option, but Councilwoman Simon says a number of major retailers in those same communities have already indicated they plan to honor the ban.