Plastic bag fee proposed

Plastic Bags

(Cleveland) - It may soon cost you more to shop in Cuyahoga County, unless you bring your own shopping bag. 

In an effort to cut down on environmental hazards caused by plastic bags, County Council is considering a 10-cent surcharge for each plastic bag used. 

The money would go into the Environmental Remediation Fund, for the creation of reusable bags that would be given to the public for free, and to hire workers for environmental clean up. 

County Councilwoman Sunny Simon says the average resident receives 335 plastic bags per year, totaling about 319 million bags, which usually find their way to landfills, streets, and waterways.

The proposal will go through its first reading tonight. Hearings will be held later. If passed it would take effect on July 1, 2018. 

Plastic bags not subject to the fee would be, bags provided by a pharmacist containing a prescription drug, bags used to package a bulk item or to contain or wrap a perishable item, carryout bags offered by restaurants, bags intended for dry cleaning, garbage, pet waste or yard waste, and curbside bags for pickup or point of delivery.

Critics contend, many plastic bags end up littering streets, or clogging sewers, and polluting waterways. 

Even when disposed of properly, they take many years to decompose and break down, generating large amounts of garbage over long periods of time. 

The state of California, and the territories of American Samoa and Puerto Rico have banned disposable bags. 

Over 200 U.S. counties and municipalities have enacted ordinances either imposing a fee on plastic bags or banning them outright, including all counties in Hawaii. 

A few jurisdictions have chosen to implement a fee-only approach to bag reduction such as Washington, D.C. and adjacent Montgomery County, Maryland.

(Photos by Getty Images) 

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