Brennan endorses county ban on plastic bags
University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan has endorsed a proposed countywide ban on single-use plastic bags of the sort associated with grocery and other retail stores. Brennan’s comment came in the context of news that Cuyahoga County Council is considering banning single-use plastic bags throughout Cuyahoga County.
Writing on a community Facebook page, Brennan stated: “I was initially skeptical of a ban, but understanding that there is a connection between plastic in the water and plastic shopping bags, and knowing that there are alternatives (both canvas bags and renewable paper), I would favor a ban. Such a ban would be most effective on the state level, or barring that, the county level. I understand Councilmember Sunny Simon has been working towards that on the county level.” [Brennan is not endorsing a ban on single-use bags in University Heights only.]
In University Heights, the merchants mainly affected by such a ban would be Heinen's on South Green Road and Target in the virtually abandoned University Square shopping center, but it would also extend to convenience stores, restaurants and shops. University Heights’ other major grocery retailer, Whole Foods, offers only paper bags.
Global changes in the markets for recycled rubbish, mostly in Asia, have brought about changes in what is, and is not, considered “recyclable.” The single-use bags are not, generally, recyclable as part of the normal weekly recycling pickup of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, paper, and some other waste items for which there is still a market. The county ban would exempt paper bags that are entirely recyclable and made of at least 40 percent recycled material. Other paper bags would be banned.
The aim of a ban on single-use plastic bags would be to encourage customers to utilize multi-use, sturdier bags. The proposed county ban, sponsored by county council members Sunny Simon and Dale Miller, would include many exceptions, including bags used for newspapers, perishable groceries, garbage, dry cleaning, pet waste and prescription drugs.
In his endorsement of a proposed ban on the bags, Brennan cited a 2016 Rochester Institute of Technology study (www.rit.edu/news/researchers-study-plastic-pollution-great-lakes?id=58860&fbclid=IwAR36eG8e_pSoUfIeePujdm9n0uOSZRUHQeXrp5csoKetWj4KEi4-Li3McS8) that sought to quantify the volume of plastic waste affecting the Great Lakes. Cleveland was one of four urban centers named as a major source of plastic pollution that eventually washed ashore on lakes Erie and Superior.
In Cleveland Heights, a Refuse and Recycling Task Force held its initial meeting on April 18. Its members have been tasked with evaluating Cleveland Heights’ recycling practices, primarily from the viewpoint of safety and efficiency. Studying a possible ban on single-use shopping bags was not specifically part of the task force’s mandate. Cleveland Heights Mayor Carol Roe said, in response to a question on whether single-use bags should be banned, that she did “not have an informed opinion, yet.”
James Outman is a former journalist for international news organizations and author of volumes on a variety of historical topics, including the War on Terror. He's been a resident of University Heights since 2013.