How will a ban on plastic carry out bags help stop plastic pollution in Lake Erie?

This is an open letter to Cuyahoga County Council members Sunny Simon and Dale Miller about their pending legislation to ban single use plastic carry out bags.

The Cuyahoga County Council Ordinance No. O2019-0005, can be accessed under the pending legislation link at:

I believe that everything should be done to help the environment and to stop pollution, but Simon and Miller have not explained the reasoning behind their proposed ban on plastic carry out bags.

In 2017 Simon and Miller proposed legislation to charge a ten cent fee on plastic carry-out bags. The County would have received six cents and the retailers would have received four cents. Simon has said that 319 million bags are used each year, so the County would have received over nineteen million dollars (319 million bags x .06 = $19,140,000.) If Simon was concerned about plastic pollution, why did she want to charge money for them?  Simon never justified or explained how the sale of plastic carry out plastic bags would stop plastic pollution, or how the revenue would be used.

Now in 2019, Simon and Miller have proposed legislation to ban plastic carry out bags, stating that Lake Erie is polluted with plastic. But neither of them has explained what kind of plastic pollution is in Lake Erie, or if the plastic pollution is from plastic bags.

So my questions for Simon and Miller are:

How will a ban on plastic carry out bags help stop plastic pollution in Lake Erie?

What types of plastic pollution is most prevalent in Lake Erie (is it from plastic bottles, or micro plastics), and how is Simon planning to reduce or clean it up? How will a ban on plastic bags stop plastics from flowing into Lake Eric from adjoining lakes; and how will it stop micro plastics from flowing into Lake Erie from agricultural runoff? How will it stop micro beads in toothpaste, and micro fibers from synthetic fabrics, when washed, from flowing into the lake?

Will a ban on plastic carry out bags in Cuyahoga County cause conflicting local laws throughout the state? How will stores with locations in different counties adapt?

Won’t paper bags be more difficult to open and carry? Will using recyclable paper bags slow down the packaging of purchases? Will paper bags hold a gallon of milk, or a bag of apples?

Will making more paper bags result in greater destruction of trees and more paper in landfills? How will using paper bags lessen the abundance of plastic bags in landfills, when consumers will have to buy garbage bags instead of using their plastic grocery bags, because many people reuse their bags for this purpose?

This will put a burden on low income people.

Will cloth bags cost retailers and consumers more money? Will plastic bag employees lose their jobs or will they make paper bags instead? (FYI: Plastic bags replaced paper bags more than thirty years ago because they were cheaper to manufacture.)

I believe that there is too much pollution from many sources; especially from plastic water bottles, and pop bottles. What is Simon doing about it?

People do recycle their plastic bags at grocery store bins. A solution to using too many plastic bags could be to use biodegradable plastic bags, or for grocery shoppers to use personal shopping carts.

Sunny Simon was a speaker at the Lakewood Democratic club on 4-25-2019, and had a Power Point Presentation.  She should make this available for the public.  She mentioned a ten cent fee on plastic bags. Is this fee still being considered? How much revenue is expected? How will it be used? This needs to be explained.

If stores have to pay fines of up to $500 if they still use plastic bags, how will these fees be collected? How will these funds be used? How much is anticipated in revenue?

There are too many unanswered questions about why Cuyahoga County Council wants to put a ban on plastic carry out bags, and if revenue collection is involved.

Jeanne Coppola

Jeanne Coppola is a lifelong resident of the Collinwood neighborhood, and is interested in art and writing. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cleveland State University. 

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 10:48 AM, 05.05.2019