Proposed Ohio law aims to preempt local plastic bag bans

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CLEVELAND — A proposed state law aims to preempt the ban on disposable plastic bags just passed by Cuyahoga County Council.

Council passed the ban Tuesday to help reduce plastic pollution. It prohibits retailers from offering single-use plastic bags and encourages customers to instead use reusable bags. Retail violators could face fines. It is set to take effect January 1.

The ban excludes certain bags, including those used for newspapers, produce, pharmacy, dry cleaning and pre-packaged bags for pet waste.

“It’s really important for us to step forward and protect Lake Erie, which is our greatest natural resource, from plastic pollution,” said Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Sunny Simon, who cosponsored the ordinance.

Some grocery stores expressed concern about losing customers and the cost of providing paper bags made from recycled materials.

House Bill 242, introduced in the Ohio Legislature this month, would prevent local bans or taxes on plastic bags. The bill specifically authorizes the use of ‘auxiliary containers,’ including plastic bags.

Cosponsor Representative Don Jones, R-Ohio 95, said he thinks a recycling program or other alternative is a more common-sense solution than a ban.

“It’s easier for those bigger corporations to conform to some of this, but those small mom-and-pop stores in small town Ohio or America, it’s harder for them to conform to some of this regulation,” Jones said.

Simon said the state proposal would violate home rule and local efforts to keep Cuyahoga County clean.

“I hope that won’t go forward, but if it does, we’re going to move forward to protect home rule and also protect against the plastic industry that’s influential in getting that passed in Columbus,” she said.

More on the plastic bag ban, here.

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