Cleveland should consider opting out of the plastic bag ban
Cleveland should consider opting out of the plastic bag ban, initiated by Sunny Simon and Dale Miller of Cuyahoga County Council, because Simon and Miller have not proven that the majority of plastic pollution in Lake Erie is predominately from plastic bags.
I am concerned about the environment, and re-use and recycle my plastic bags, but I do not believe the plastic bag ban has been presented clearly and correctly to the public, and that there are other more serious sources of plastic pollution that are being ignored.
Cuyahoga Council has not shown that there is a plastic bag problem in Cleveland or Lake Erie. Plastic bottles are more of a problem, as any beach clean-up can attest to. Lots of plastic pollution in Lake Erie also comes from boaters who throw garbage into the lake, and from micro plastics and “waste water treatment plants, storm water, and agricultural run-off.” "Tons of plastic trash enter the Great Lakes every year-where does it go?" (21, Aug. 2018), https://theconversation.com/
Other more serious pollution problems caused from agricultural run-off and raw sewage overflow are the dead zones that are forming in Lake Erie.
The majority of plastic bag pollution is in the oceans, because garbage is dumped there. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, "a collection of plastic, floating trash halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles, a study found." Dole Rice. "Pacific Garbage Patch, Largest Collection of Ocean Trash, Grows." (28 Dec. 2018), https://www.usatoday.com/
Since Simon and Miller are concerned about plastic pollution in Lake Erie, why are they ignoring other plastic pollution problems, including: milk jugs, pop bottles, water bottles, bottle caps, yogurt containers, straws, plastic cutlery, micro beads from personal care products, synthetic fibers that come off in the wash, agricultural runoff from farming, and Styrofoam.
Why isn't the County implementing a major recycling information program, and providing more recycling centers and requiring cities to give recycling containers to apartment buildings? Cities only provide recycling containers for curb side pick-up to private homes, but not apartments. I live in an apartment and cannot recycle my plastics, paper, cans, or cardboard.
Another problem with the plastic bag ban is how much revenue the ban will provide to the County. According to the Cuyahoga County Council Ordinance No. O222019-0005 banning plastic bags, the County's Department of Consumer Affairs will enforce this ban, and give "a written warning for the first violation, a civil fine of up to $100 for a second violation, and a civil fine of up to $500 for each subsequent violation." Each day a violation occurs would be considered a separate violation. http://council.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/2019-Ordinances.aspx
Who will pay for enforcing this ban throughout all the retail establishments in Cuyahoga County? Is an anticipated monetary gain expected from multiple violations? Is there a hidden agenda?
Retail establishments should provide plastic bags as a convenience. Plastic bags can be recycled into many useful products, like plastic lumber; to make lawn furniture, park benches, and children’s playground equipment! People re-use plastic bags for garbage, baby diapers, and dog poop and also recycle them at store locations, such as: Dave’s, Giant Eagle and Marc’s, which have recycling bins.
If customers have to purchase sturdy reusable plastic bags, it will defeat the purpose by using more plastic, money and energy to produce these bags. A better option would be to provide compostable bags.
Reusable bags have to be washed between each use, or the bags will be unsanitary for food purchases. Used bags will contaminate the counter for the next customer. It will slow up the line, and cause delays. Each grocery store will have to install a separate bagging station.
Paper bags leak and will cause trees to be cut down and will increase global warming.
Although I am not in favor of banning plastic bags, I believe each city in Cuyahoga County should have the right to pass their own laws on this matter, individually. The Ohio House Bill 242, and the Ohio Senate Bill 222, both seek to pass a law to stop cities and counties from passing plastic bag bans; and this would deny each city and county of their right to home rule.
Instead of banning plastic bags, Cuyahoga County Council should focus on all the other plastic pollution problems. They should focus on the pollution from agricultural runoff and litter. They should require cities to provide recycling containers for curb-side pickup to apartment buildings, not just private homes, and have recycling containers in all schools (for glass, metal, plastic and paper), for students and local residences, and educate the public about how and where to recycle.
Jeanne Coppola is a lifelong resident of the Collinwood neighborhood, and is interested in art and writing.