Cuyahoga County council to consider ordinance placing fees on grocery bags

Posted at 7:40 AM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-10 19:36:44-04

Next year, the usual trip to the grocery store could get a little more expensive. 

The Cuyahoga County Council is set to consider an ordinance, placing a fee on plastic and paper bags.

Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Sunny Simon is set to present her proposal Tuesday evening.

The proposed ordinance would charge customers an extra 10-cents for every paper or plastic bag they use. Since 2012, Simon said the county has seen a huge problem with plastic pollution.

“We are drinking water that is contaminated with plastic now because the plastic has micro-plastic particles that cannot be filtered through the water system,” said Simon.

News 5 talked to local grocery store owner, Rachel Kingsbury, about her thoughts on the ordinance.

“We grew up going to Heinen's at my house so they give you the option of paper or plastic so we never were a plastic bag family,” said Kingsbury, owner of The Grocery OHC. 

She said she only uses paper bags in her store and even encourages her customers to bring their own.

“If they have a reusable bag, they can just shove it in their car and bring it with them,” she said, “and they can hold themselves accountable.”

Councilwoman Simon is considering charging for paper bags as well. She said paper can be expensive for retailers and can hurt the environment as well.

According to Simon, the money from the fees would go towards lake cleanup. However, she added  residents will be able to get free reusable grocery bags from the county.

Under the Carryout Bag Fee ordinance, customers would be charged the 10-cents per plastic or paper bag at most grocery, department and convenience stores. The fee would also qualify for restaurants and service stations, essentially any shop 7,000 square feet or larger. 

The establishments responsible for collecting the fees would retain up to four cents for each bag charge. 

The rest of the money collected would go into the Environmental Remediation Fund, which would be created under the Carryout Bag Fee ordinance. The money collected in the fund may later be used to help clean up lakes, rivers and waterways of plastic bag pollution.

If passed, the fee would go into effect beginning July 2018.

Other cities, like Los Angeles and Seattle, have also implemented similar ordinances. 

However, groups, like Bag the Ban, are against fees placed on plastic bags. Citing that more than 24,000 Americans are employed at bag manufacturing and recycling plants across the country. 

The ordinance will be introduced at the Cuyahoga County council meeting on Monday night.