Cleveland - Residents across the county show overwhelming support for the county’s ban on single-use plastic bags, according to a survey released today by County Councilwoman Sunny Simon and Cuyahoga County’s Department of Sustainability. Of the nearly 500 county residents surveyed, 72% indicated support for the measure, including 48% who said they are “strongly in favor” of the ban.
“People clearly get it,” explained County Councilwoman Sunny Simon, who drafted the ban. “Pollution from single use plastic bags is a threat to all of us. They harm our neighborhoods, communities, Lake Erie and local waterways."
Each year, Cuyahoga County residents dispose of more than 319 million plastic bags, which are difficult to recycle and take up to 1,000 years to decompose. These bags end up polluting waterways, littering neighborhoods and contributing to the hazards of microplastic waste. Microplastics act as a host to bacteria and often contain dangerous chemicals like PCBs, hydrocarbons, heavy metals and endocrine disruptors. These dangerous pollutants are being discovered in fish, wildlife, drinking water and even rain contain, according to recent reports. County directors view the ban as a way to protect residents while securing a strong economic future for the region.
“The days of being known as the ‘mistake on the lake’ are over and small changes like shifting to reusable bags will go a long way towards keeping us on track,” explained the County Department of Sustainability’s Director Mike Foley.
At least 127 countries and 349 jurisdictions have regulations on plastic bags. Cuyahoga County modeled its plastic bag ban after several other bans that have proven to be successful. In Chicago alone, bag usage dropped by more than 50% in the first month of their program.
One of residents’ concerns regarding the ban is forgetting reusable bags, according to the Department of Sustainability’s survey. To help, the county is launching “Bring Your Own Bag,” a countywide public awareness program. The program will include a number of events, including free bag giveaways. Officials already have begun meeting with local retailers to gain their help in raising awareness surrounding the ban.
“Working hand-in-hand with retailers, residents and community leaders we can really make a difference ― and do it in a way that helps all of us,” said Diane Bickett, Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.
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