RECYCLE Plastic Shopping Bags – Reject Bans!
Written by Kathy Johnson of Chardon Township
As many know, Cuyahoga County Council enacted a regulation effectively banning single use plastic shopping bags to commence on January 1, 2020. This ban would restrict consumer choices and burden businesses in the affected municipalities. Interestingly and correctly, some Cuyahoga County communities are already opting out of the excessive and restrictive mandate.
Imposing bans or fees on plastic shopping bags, though perhaps well intended, misses the mark in many ways. Brown paper grocery bags are a suggested alternative. They hold stuff well, but these old-fashioned friends tear easily and get soggy! For these reasons, paper bags are less likely be reused at home as trash can liners (or for doggy doo), which means higher sales of wastebasket liners that are made of, you
guessed it, plastic!
The cost to grocers of providing paper bags is approximately double that of plastic.
More resources go into manufacturing and shipping paper bags and the manufacturing process causes more pollution and waste. Producing plastic bags has become more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
Sturdy, reusable plastic shopping bags are an alternative and are symbols of environmental responsibility everywhere, right? Actually, wrong! A report published just days ago from the UK suggests that the movement to sell and reuse heavy duty plastic bags has been an utter failure. The report states that the volume of plastics has increased and the movement has failed to establish a pattern of reuse! That’s right, the monster bags sold as “bags for life” are reported to function as bags for a week and are doing more harm than good.
Reusable bags, whether heavy plastic or cloth, should come with imprinted health warning labels. Reusables, particularly when kept in a hot car during summer, can become breeding grounds for bacteria. It is recommended to wash fabric bags and to disinfect reusable plastic bags after each use, dry thoroughly, and store in a cool, dry place.
It is widely recommended to use separate bags for raw meats, seafood, and poultry. In fact, the USDA and others recommend placing these foods in separate plastic bags to prevent juices from contaminating other foods. Another recommendation is to discard
worn out reusables that are permanently soiled – when in doubt, throw it out!
Bills have been introduced in both the Ohio House and Senate that would restrain municipalities from enacting local taxes and bans on auxiliary containers. Existing anti-littering laws would be clarified to include auxiliary containers. This is being promoted by environmental ideologues as a violation of “home rule” in Ohio. In reality, the legislators sponsoring these bills are farsighted and seek to prevent Ohio from becoming a patchwork of local plastic restrictions and regulations.
Consumers and businesses in Ohio should have consistent, uniform, and easy-to-understand regulations. I fully support House Bill 242 and Senate Bill 222.
In closing, I highly recommend recycling single use plastic bags! It is very easy to take them back to grocery stores that have conveniently placed recycle receptacles!