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Plastic bag ban in Cuyahoga County pushed back as grocery stores try to bounce back from pandemic

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 06, 2022

CLEVELAND — In 2019, a ban on plastic bags was passed and was set to go into effect in 2020, then 2022, but was pushed back due to the pandemic. Grocery stores in the area don't see how it would be possible any time soon.

At Gallucci's, you'll find your regular lunchtime rush customers coming in and workers checking them out, but what you don’t see are the struggles they've faced behind the scenes.

“We're going into our third year now in dealing with the COVID pandemic and things have never been worse,” said Galluci's Vice President Marc R. Kotora.

The pandemic’s impacts on Galluci’s and other stories are many.

“The real-life situation that we're facing with trying to operate a business in this environment is extremely difficult,” Kotora said. “And it's from staffing, it's from dealing with the effects of the virus…there are so many other things. Oh, yeah, but supply chain issues are a huge part of that as well.”

A ban on plastic bags is something they don't want to add to their issues.

“I'm not really sure how paper is the best bag to use in the food business because so many things can leak. And it's just it's going to be difficult for us to get,” said Kotora.

Cuyahoga County councilwoman Sunny Simon helped pass the ordinance with the environment in mind.

“We know that Lake Erie is the second most polluted plastic polluted lake in the Great Lakes,” said Simon.

Of course, Simon has seen the impact COVID has had over the last two years.

“Unfortunately, we're not going to box anybody in who couldn't have predicted this pandemic,” said Simon, which led them to postpone their ban in 2020 and again in 2022.

“So we have to now come out with a slower rollout for 2022 and begin to look at a date for enforcement of the ban,” said Simon.

But for Gallucci’s, that's not enough.

“Omicron kind of just came out of the woodwork like that and became of this huge spike you you're seeing numbers at the highest levels they've ever been, and so while there's no end in sight, they're going to say, ‘Oh, we’re going to give you six months.’ Well, what's the next variant going to be in six months?” said Kotora.

While Councilwoman Simon says they expect to put the plan in place later in the year but are willing to pivot at any point.

“I can't predict what's going to happen with this virus but assuming it dissipates, then we're going to go forward. If something blows up, we have to be flexible,” said Simon.

The council has yet to decide on a tentative new date of enforcement for the ban.

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