Members of the Cuyahoga County Council approved a ban on disposable plastic shopping bags at their May 28 Council meeting, after the legislation was amended that will extend the time for when the measure will be enacted. The legislation was introduced by County Council members District 11 Sunny M. Simon and District 2 Dale Miller on April 9.
The ban will take effect on January 1, 2020. The original legislation had the start date as October 1, 2019, but was changed to allow those retail establishments time to prepare for and adjust to the change.
The ban was approved 8 to 3, with Republicans Michael Gallagher, Jack Schron and Nan Baker voting against it. It was approved by Democrat members Sunny Simon, Dale Miller, Scott Tuma, Yvonne Conwell, Dan Brady, Pernel Jones Jr., and Shontel Brown and Cheryl Stephens. District 5 County Councilman, Michael J. Gallagher, who represents North Royalton as part of his district, previously stated that he would not be voting on the measure, as the ban is not across the board and did not include bags for certain items. He also said that the county had more important issues that they should be addressing, such as senior benefits.
The legislation noted that the disposable plastic bags that have been discarded are a major source of litter and imposes cleanup, removal and processing costs on communities. The legislation was written to discourage the wasteful use of the bags. The legislation also references China’s “National Sword” policy, which prohibits the acceptance of twenty four types of recycled waste, including the disposable plastic bags. By doing this, it has diminished the market for these bags.
The definition of disposal plastic bag is one that is made of plastic and provided by a retail establishment at a point of sale for the purpose of transporting items purchased. It goes on to state, however that “Disposable Plastic Bag does not include:
1. a bag the customer brought with them to the Retail Establishment,
2. a newspaper bag,
3. a bag provided by a pharmacist that contains a prescription drug,
4. a bag used to package a bulk item or to contain or wrap a perishable item such as meat, fish, produce, baked goods, or flowers,
5. a bag that a restaurant gives a customer to take prepared or leftover food or drink from the restaurant,
6. a bag intended for use as a dry cleaning, garbage, or yard waste bag,
7. pre-packaged bags used for the collection of pet waste,
8. Non-Permitted Paper Bags and Permitted Paper Bags, as defined in this Chapter,
9. Bags provided to the consumer for the purpose of transporting a partially consumed bottle of wine pursuant to Section 4301.62 (E) of the Ohio Revised Code, or
10. a bag provided at curbside pickup or point of delivery.”
Bags for hazardous materials, such as chemicals purchased, were also added to the list upon amendment.
Starting on January 1, 2020, retailers can only offer a reusable bag at the point of sale to transport goods. They shall not refuse customers to bring and use their own reusable bags and shall encourage them to bring their own reusable bags. These retailers will not require their customers to use the retailers disposable bags, nor be charged a fee for the use of reusable bags.
Any retail establishment that violates the law would be subject to a written warning for the first violation, a fine of up to $100 for a second violation and a fine of up to $500 for each subsequent violation. The measure will be enforced by the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs.
Contributing Writer