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New study finds when a city bans plastic bags, residents bought them elsewhere

Posted at 9:59 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-25 11:47:11-04

CLEVELAND — Most of us have collected our fair share of plastic bags from grocery shopping or buying a new pair of jeans, but pretty soon those single use bags could be regulated in Cuyahoga County.

"We've spent, My colleagues and I, several years reviewing and studying the impact of single use plastic bags in a community and I feel my colleagues are supportive of this initiative," said Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Sunny Simon.

Simon has been an advocate for banning single use plastic bags across the county since day one. County council is set to vote on the initiative Tuesday, May 28.

"I think it brings an awareness and a collective investment in our greatest natural resource, which is our lake Erie," said Simon.

There's a new study out that looked into places that already have these plastic bag bans like California. The study that was published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management found lots of people reused the plastic bags for small garbage bins or picking up dog waste.

They couldn't get them from grocery stores anymore, so consumers bought their own.

Small trash bag purchases were up by 120%, so although 40 million pounds of plastic carry-out bag waste was eliminated, 12 million pounds of trash bag waste was added.

But Simon says at least the ban is a start.

"If they have to buy them, they're going to only buy what they need," said Simon. "They're not going to have an excess of plastic bags hanging around their kitchen drawer."

Republicans have already taken steps to stop the ban altogether, introducing their own bill in Columbus to keep the single use bags in grocery and retail stores.