After years of advocacy and legislative fits and starts, County Councilwoman Sunny Simon and her co-sponsors are on the verge of passing a law that will ban the use of single-use plastic bags in Cuyahoga County. Simon has called the measure a necessary step to protect and preserve the region's most important natural asset, Lake Erie.
The ban, which if passed would go into effect in October, received unanimous support in a committee hearing Wednesday. It will now move to a vote by the full council, where it's expected to receive a majority (6 of 11 votes or better).
County Executive Armond Budish has not indicated his support or opposition to the ban, but if his State of the County address
and the climate action proposals described therein are meant to be taken seriously, he'll sign this sucker with a quickness.
The ban includes many exceptions, including the plastic bags used for newspapers, produce, pet waste, prescription meds and dry-cleaning. Violators will be first subject a written warning followed by fines — second violation: $100; subsequent violations: up to $500.
The plastic bag ban follows an attempt by Simon and Councilman Dale Miller in 2017 to pass legislation that would have charged a 10-cent fee on plastic bags. But that idea received significant pushback locally and at the statehouse. Supported by the plastic bag and retail lobbies, a bunch of backwards Republican bozos authored pre-emptive legislation
prohibiting cities from taxing "auxiliary containers" like plastic bags. The legislation was premised, they said, on business-friendliness.
But Simon was furious.
"Instead of joining the rest of the world," she told Scene at the time, "[the legislature] has made it a priority to pollute our environment while enriching special interests. The pollution is egregious, and it's a horrible legacy to leave for our next generation. [This bill] is unconscionable."
The Cuyahoga County plastic bag ban now appears to have gained broad support. Simon said she recognized that it will constitute a change for many residents, but the county will likely roll out a marketing campaign to promote reusable bags. The Solid Waste District, according to cleveland.com
, is working to track down grant dollars so the county can provide reusable bags to residents.