Plastic ban fight fails

WARREN — Councilman Eugene Mach has abandoned his effort to ban the use of plastic bags in the city.

Mach, D-7th Ward, announced Wednesday he is ending discussions in council to support the ban.

“When I spoke to community members, business people and my fellow council members, I found there is a lot of support,” Mach said. “Unfortunately, it does not have widespread support. There is a segment that is not ready for this kind of change and I do not believe it would have passed council.”

Although he had not formerly introduced legislation, Mach held several meetings of the council’s strategic planning committee to discuss the city not allowing, or at least limiting, stores’ ability to use single-use plastic bags.

Mach initially said the discussions were being held to reduce the amount of plastic going into the waste stream, as well as working to make Warren a more environmentally progressive community.

The councilman had hoped to draft legislation before the end of the year.

“People are ready for change when they are ready,” Mach said. “People are not ready.”

Instead, Mach is refocusing his energies to curbside recycling programs.

Mach hopes to reintroduce the plastic bag ban idea in two to three years after fighting some smaller, more manageable environmental issues.

Councilman John Brown, D-3rd Ward, said owners of Macali Giant Eagle in Niles told him they allow customers to choose plastic or paper, or bring their own cloth bags.

“They even offer recycled bags, so at least they are being used more than once,” Brown said.

Councilman Eddie Colbert, D-at Large, said the idea of banning the use of single-use plastic bags was obviously a good idea for protecting the enviroment. However, Colbert also suggested the cost of the project for a single community like Warren, is probably too great.

“What is going to be the impact on citizens,” Colbert said. “It would be nice to see something like this on a statewide level, where the impact would be greater, have more measurable results and more spread out.”

Councilman Dan Sferra, D-at Large, said the young councilman realized he did not have the votes and decided to go in another direction.

“Why fight a battle you cannot win,” Sferra said.