CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County’s plastic bag ban is set to go into effect January 1, 2020, but the city of Cleveland is considering opting out.
Council members are divided on the issue, with some saying it could hurt local grocery stores and that the county hasn’t done an effective job of reminding people about the upcoming change. Others said it will help the environment and that people will eventually adjust their habits.
Shoppers in Cleveland were out two days before Thanksgiving and many of them received their groceries in plastic bags.
Tonia Campbell was one of those shoppers and said she doesn’t like the idea of the bag ban that could soon go into effect in Cuyahoga County and Cleveland.
“[If] you’re walking, you need to carry your bags,” Campbell said.
Like many people, Campbell said she has reusable bags but doesn’t use them.
"I always forget them at home, so I rely on the plastic bags,” Campbell said.
Another shopper, Cathy Bogan, said she, too, relies on plastic.
"The paper bags sometimes tear, you know, and it’s better for either the elderly people to handle better,” Bogan said. “And it’s better just for them, so I hope they don’t get rid of them.”
Some grocery stores in Cleveland are against the bag ban, saying it hurts profit margins that are already small.
Dave’s Markets sent News 5 a statement about the company’s stance on the legislation Cleveland City Council introduced Monday, writing, “Dave’s Markets supports Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley’s approach, which is based on a collaborative effort to drive positive change in our communities. The City of Cleveland and Dave’s Markets share an ongoing commitment to providing fresh food access to Cleveland’s neighborhoods.”
Other stores, however, already do not offer plastic and consider it an important step toward being environmentally friendly.
“We’re doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint, not just with bags but in a lot of different ways,” said Lisa Figueroa, assistant director of Lucky’s Market in Cleveland.
Companywide, Figueroa said, Lucky’s Market stores do not offer plastic bags at checkout. Instead, the stores offer paper bags or allow customers to bring a reusable bag of their own. Customers who bring in a bag can get a token that allows them to donate 10 cents to one of a few charities Lucky’s selects, or they can get 10 cents off their grocery bill.
“Folks usually have a bunch of bags sitting around in their home anyway, and so it’s kind of nice to be able to use them instead of collecting dust in your house,” Figueroa said.
She said the Cleveland store hasn’t gotten any pushback from customers for not offering plastic.
“I think that so many customers are ready to just start using paper, more than retailers realize,” Figueroa said.
Still, not every shopper in Cleveland is on board.
"I honestly don’t like it,” April Crawford said. “I understand it’s best for the environment. However, I think everyone should just do their part. Instead of doing away with the bags, just take better care of it."
Crawford said she reuses her plastic grocery bags. If the ban does go into effect in Cleveland, where she lives and does most of her shopping, she said she'd prefer to avoid paper bags.
“We have some reusable bags, so I think I would probably go that route instead of using paper, cause paper can rip easily,” Crawford said.
Cleveland City Council will make a decision on opting out on Monday, December 2.