Why Does Lakewood City Council Support Cuyahoga County Council Bag Fee?

I have some questions about the article "City Council Supports County's Proposed Fee on Plastic Bags" (2-20-2018), by Matt Kuhns, concerning Lakewood City Council's support of Cuyahoga County Council's proposed plastic bag fee.

The plastic bag ordinance O2017-0006 was introduced by Cuyahoga County Council members Sunny Simon and Dale Miller, to collect ten cents for each plastic carry-out bag.

I do not understand why Lakewood City Council members Tristan Rader and Sam O’ Leary introduced a resolution supporting Cuyahoga County Council's bag fee for several reasons.

Kuhns says that the county-wide bag fee proposal will use the proceeds to fund the “retailer’s expenses for participation, environmental cleanup efforts, and a program to promote and distribute free reusable shopping bags.”

How is funding the grocer’s participation in this program stopping plastic bag use?

According to Simon, 319 million bags are used each year. Out of the ten cent fee, the County would get six cents, and the retailers would get four cents. If plastic bag sales do not diminish this could raise a lot of money.

319 million bags x .06 cents = $19,140,000 for the County, and 319 million bags x .04 cents = $12,760,000 for the retailers.

The County will be making money off of the workers who make the bags. 

Cuyahoga County Council plans to create an Environmental Remedial Fund to collect the plastic bag fees from the retailers, and require retailers to keep records of these fees for three years, and be fined $500 for violations in collecting them.

This will not stop plastic bag use. It will create a vicious cycle of selling plastic bags, and collecting plastic bag fees.

Cuyahoga County Council has not explained how their plastic environmental cleanup program will be implemented, or what plastic pollution will be removed from the lake.

Consumers re-use their plastic shopping bags for garbage and for carrying other items. Consumers also recycle their plastic bags at local grocery outlets. There are lots of stores that already sell reusable plastic shopping bags. 

Lakewood City Council member David Anderson (Ward 1) is the only person who did not agree with the other Lakewood City Council members, in support of the Cuyahoga County Council's resolution.

I commend him for this. 

There are too many unanswered questions about why Cuyahoga County Council wants to implement this plastic bag fee, and why Lakewood City Council supports it. 

A better solution would be to sell biodegradable plastic bags.

Jeanne Coppola

Jeanne Coppola is interested in art, writing and health care advocacy.  She wrote for the Cleveland State University student multicultural magazine "The Vindicator," when she was a student.  

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 3:06 PM, 05.15.2018