Earlier this week, I found myself at a local government meeting to discourage the town where I live from considering a ban on plastic bags. Oh, the places you go after working for Plastics News for 22 years!
The city of Wickliffe, Ohio, was considering such a ban after one was proposed by Mayor John Barbish. Wickliffe is a community of almost 13,000 located in northeast Ohio about 15 miles east of Cleveland. Barbish made the proposal after seeing bans enacted elsewhere. Cuyahoga County, which borders Wickliffe, gave final approval to one on May 28, just a few hours before the meeting I attended.
I came to the meeting with data showing that plastic bags can be recycled and that paper or cloth bags can be worse for the environment in the long run. Wickliffe's trash hauler doesn't recycle bags, but I found seven locations in the area that do. I also contacted a local church that needs plastic bags to hand out food to families in need.
I spoke before a committee that was deciding whether to send the proposed ban to the City Council for approval. It turned out that I didn't face the battle I had expected. The mayor had called a couple of local businesses that use a lot of plastic bags and had received negative feedback from a locally owned grocery store. Store management told him that a bag ban could increase costs and affect their profitability.
After a brief discussion, committee members decided to take the bag ban proposal out of committee, meaning it won't be sent to council.
So cooler heads prevailed, with collection and recycling of plastic bags being seen as a better option than a ban. The plastics industry is facing an uphill struggle on bag bans, with more being put in place every week. Hopefully, our town of Wickliffe can set an example for reasonable discussion and a favorable outcome as well.