Plastic Bag Fee Proposed in Cuyahoga County

click to enlarge Plastic Bag Fee Proposed in Cuyahoga County
Courtesy Walmart
Cuyahoga County Council members will introduce an ordinance today that would levy a $.10 fee on every plastic bag used at just about any supermarket, convenience store, department store or really any shop that covers 7,000 square feet or more.

If passed, the fee would go into effect next July.

Council members Sunny Simon and Dale Miller are introducing the legislation. It's expected to be read aloud during tomorrow's council meeting and referred to a committee for later debate.

Here's the gist: The fee would be tacked onto a customer's total costs, with $.10 being added for every plastic bag used. (SNAP recipients would not be subjected to the fee.)

The business would keep "up to" four cents from each $.10 fee, with the rest going to the county's Environmental Remediation Fund, which would be formed as part of this legislation. On the 20th of every month, the business would remit to the county all total revenue from the plastic bag fee (minus the potential 40-percent administrative costs).

The Environmental Remediation Fund would later be tapped for recycling efforts, river clean-ups, pollution prevention, litter removal and other sustainably minded public services. The county would be permitted to audit the business' plastic bag records at any time.

All along, businesses both local and conglomerate would be expected to encourage customers to bring reusable totes or their own plastic bags to the store.

If this ordinance were to pass, Cuyahoga County would join the cities of Seattle and Portland (and others) in a growing trend toward banning the use of plastic bags. California voters approved Prop. 67 last year, ending a fairly controversial political scratch that saw much debate. In developing countries, the trend toward all-out bans in even more pronounced.

The Natural Resources Defense Council posits that the average American family carts home 1,500 plastic bags each year, with most ending up in yet another plastic trash bag.

And while plastic bag use continues to rise, it's worth noting that this isn't the first time Simon has proposed such a ban in Cuyahoga County. Five years ago, shortly after the council was formed, she worked alongside City Councilman Matt Zone to push this sort of policy. The idea got lost in legal gray areas (council's power was still being sussed out, especially with respect to the county's unincorporated townships).

The debate ahead, which will certainly include local grocers like Dave's and Marc's, will be an interesting one to watch.

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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