Plastic bags bans delayed

Plastic shopping bags will be with us a little longer. What can consumers do to eliminate them?

On May 12 of this week, Kroger announced that it would delay its plans to eliminate single-use plastic bags in its Cincinnati stores this June. Just one week earlier (May 4), Kroger had given notice to its customers that it would eliminate single-use plastic beginning June 1. The reason for the delay, Kroger said, was due to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s bill banning bans on single-use plastic bags. DeWine had signed House Bill 242 on Oct. 13, 2020, which puts a one-year moratorium on regulations regarding the use of single-use plastic containers.

Cincinnati’s ban against single-use plastic bags was passed last year in September of 2020 and was slated to go into effect Jan 1 of this year. It was postponed due to Ohio’s House Bill 242. Our greatest concern now is that our State representatives will vote to extend HB 242 and that Gov. DeWine will not veto it. What action should we take as Cincinnatians in response to this situation? Cincinnati should be able to proceed with its municipal ordinance and let city businesses like Kroger follow suit.

Kroger has decided it would be best in to comply with the City’s ordinance which goes into effect January 2022, saying “cutting out plastic bags is in cooperation with the city of Cincinnati plastic bag ban and is part of the store’s Zero Hunger initiative.” Kroger officials will meanwhile encourage customers to use their reusable bags each time they visit a store and to recycle any plastic bags.

Consumers can perhaps best respond by writing letters to the editor, or to Kroger directly, commending its efforts to end single-use plastic bags in its stores. More importantly, we could encourage the Kroger Company to urge Gov. DeWine to allow HB 242 to expire when it is due to sunset on Jan 15, 2022. City Council had broad community and business support when it established its ordinance in the first place, and it has been fully transparent in adopting it. We do not need any more delays!

As Kroger customers, we might also write Gov. DeWine directly to persuade him that HB 242 not only undermines human and environmental health; it intimidates local businesses and subverts Cincinnati’s Home Rule.

The issue of plastic pollution continues to be a growing concern. The more we learn, the more we realize how scary the consequences are and how much governmental regulation is necessary to protect human and environmental health. We do have purchasing power as consumers. Corporations are beginning to feel the risk of continuing to invest in plastics, as we customers become more willing to forgo conveniences and use our dollars elsewhere.

One final step consumers can take: Support federal legislation that calls for action addressing the root cause of plastic pollution through the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. #BFFPPA

Jeanne Nightingale
Miami Group Conservation Committee
Miami Group Executive Committee
Past Plastic Cincinnati Coalition

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