Debate over plastic bag ban or fee has many layers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council Chambers was packed Tuesday evening with people who have disdain for single-use plastic bags, and people who rely on them to do their jobs. The hearing was held by City Council’s Community Improvement Committee, made up of Mark Hollenbaugh, Bill Herald and John Zanfardino. Hollenbaugh explained the city is exploring a myriad of options for single-use plastic bags. Nine citizens voiced their support or opposition to possible plastic bag regulation in the city. Seven were in support, and two were against. Another hearing will be held March 4, at 6 p.m., in city council chambers, to give more citizens a chance to share their feelings. James Egan suggested that any fees raised be used to track the effect of a ban, since little data is available. Madi Stump said the plastic bag debate is a sustainability issue, and communities can learn to adapt to changes in their consumer cultures. Joe DeMare estimated that 150 municipalities across the nation have banned or charge fees for single-use plastic. The problem may seem overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean that communities should give up. “Plastic bags can be at the top of the list,” DeMare said. He mentioned the problem with blowing plastic bags at the Wood County Landfill, west of Bowling Green. An ordinance on bags can be an attempt to deal with a highly visible part of the overall problem. “Eventually, we’re going to have to deal with the entire iceberg,” DeMare said. Zanfardino said he was glad to see places like Cuyahoga County tackling the plastic bag problem. “I’m heartened to see other cities looking at this in Ohio,” he said. Tom Klein’s only reservation on the possible plastic bag ordinance is that it doesn’t go far enough. “We’re drowning in waste,” Klein said. And banning plastic bags makes people feel as if they are solving a problem. “They’re deceptive. They make us feel like we’re dealing with the problem.” But Robin Belleville, owner of BG Frosty Fare, said her business relies on the bags to send food orders home with customers. “I come to you urging a ‘no’ vote,” she said. A five or 10 cent fee per sale would have a “huge impact” on her business. “Each and every sale matters to my bottom line,” Belleville said, saying a fee would make her reconsider operating a business in…

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