By Addison Burke, Staff Writer
The plastic bag ban, which aims to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags in grocery and convenience stores, is once again being presented by the Cincinnati City Council.
Initially, a local ban was intended to go into effect in 2021, but state lawmakers silently passed a bill that blocked this ban. This time around, there may be a better chance that state lawmakers pass the measure since Kroger stores plan to eliminate their single-use plastic bags in U.S. stores by 2025.
Ohio currently prohibits charging a fee or tax for plastic bags, but no legislation states that cities can’t ban the distribution of plastic bags. This is what the city is currently trying to work through so that they can implement this ban when possible.
“The next and really concurrent thing that we need to do is continue educating the public about why single-use plastic bags and other bags are bad for the environment, bad for our communities and why they should be using reusable bags,” Nathan Alley, Conservation Program Coordinator for Sierra Club, Ohio stated.
For some, plastic bags can be pivotal for their lives. Many homeless people greatly depend on plastic bags to carry around their goods and keep their belongings dry when inclement weather occurs. If the plastic bag ban fully takes place in convenience and grocery stores, homeless individuals will have to find an alternative to keeping their goods dry, especially if the main alternative in stores becomes paper bags, which can break and fall apart.
By instating the plastic bag ban across the city, Cincinnati is following in the footsteps of Cuyahoga County and the City of Bexley, which placed their bans into effect in 2022, and they have not faced any legal challenges with it.
Finding altneratives to single-use plastic bags that is affordable and accessible is a priority for some.
“We certainly don’t want this to be burdensome in any kind of way. But we also know that the cost benefit — the sustainability, environmental impact, the health benefit — to this certainly outweighs everything in my opinion,” Councilmember Meeka Owens, chair of the Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, said.
While the fate of the plastic bag ban has yet to be decided, the Green Cincinnati Plan is currently being crafted that will aim to address this ban, climate change and bolster the environmental resilience of the city and its neighborhoods. The plan is currently being updated from its previous version in 2018, and it’s being updated for a hopeful release for this spring.
Kroger has pledged to eliminate single-use plastic bags in all its stores by 2025.
“Kroger remains committed to our goal to phase out single-use plastic bags in our stores across the country by 2025. The Kroger team continues to plan our transition timeline for retail divisions to meet this commitment, said Kroger spokeswoman Jenifer Moore.
So far, only 60, or roughly 2%, of all Kroger stores have phased out plastic bags.