Plastic bag ban proposed

WARREN — Banning stores in the city from selling single-use plastic bags by 2020 is the goal of at least one member of city council.

If Councilman Eugene Mach, D-7th Ward, is successful in convincing his colleagues to agree, Warren could be the first city in Ohio to outlaw these types of plastic bags.

Because Mach knows it’s likely an uphill battle to get the legislation passed, he said he plans to take a methodical approach to that end.

“If we can get an ordinance voted on sometime before the end of the year, I think that would be the right approach,” Mach said. “I first want to get council on the same page, get some public and business input and only then ask for legislation.”

Mach said a ban would reduce the amount of material that goes into area landfills, which is good for the environment and improves Warren’s image.

“It takes 500 to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to break down,” he said. “The plastic deteriorates into tinier pieces that seep into our rivers and streams.”

He added, “Banning single-use plastic bags in the city may be attractive to young professionals looking at places to move. It shows that the city is progressive.”

The bags could be replaced with paper or multi-use cloth or thicker plastic bags, he said.

However, some area business officials are unsure of the proposal.

Greg Bartholomew, owner of All American Cards and Comics, 161 W. Market St., Warren, said he would like to see a study that shows single-use plastic bags are a problem in the city.

“As a business, the use of paper bags is much more expensive than plastic bags,” Bartholomew said. “We have some paper bags, if a customer does not want plastic.”

Sarah Prentice, assistant head cashier at Sparkle Market, 2587 Parkman Road NW, said store officials discussed the issue and concluded customers should have the choice to use plastic or other bags.

“I can see why they are having the discussion, because of the possible impact on the environment, but it should be up to customers,” Prentice said. “We have customers that already bring their own bags. We generally don’t have a lot of people who choose to take paper bags.”

Prentice added the store previously offered to sell reusable bags, but did not have a lot of customers who were interested in purchasing and using them.

Stacey Hoover, co-owner of Cockeye BBQ, 1805 Parkman Road NW, said restaurant operators looked at trying to find ways to reduce the number of plastic bags and amount of Styrofoam at their restaurant.

“If they (council) want to do something, they should look at ways of giving businesses that want to reduce their use some kind of tax credit,” Hoover said.

The city’s health department would monitor usage, according to Mach. Any fines from violations would be assessed to proprietors.

Mach said there would be some exemptions to the single-use bag ban, including the plastic bags in which newspapers are delivered and the bags used by dry cleaners.

“In cases like these, there are no replacement materials for the bags,” he said.

Mach said he is modeling the legislation after one that passed in Austin, Texas, in 2012, but later was made unenforceable by a 2018 Texas Supreme Court ruling in a different Texas community.