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Bag Bans Don’t Hold Water on Sustainability


Ohio State Representative Adam Mathews

OHIO – Ohioans are already facing near-record prices at the grocery store. Forcing them to pay a new bag fee or to purchase imported reusable stitched-handle bags for an extra dollar or two just doesn’t make sense. The families I represent aren’t looking for their elected officials to increase costs on their already strained budgets.

We passed a law to protect Ohioans and Ohio businesses from overzealous local governments dictating to businesses what products they must provide to their consumers. Businesses can safely ignore localities who attempt to enforce regulations on bags or other containers contrary to state law.

Moreover, banning products like bags, straws, or cups won’t address the larger environmental questions like waste and pollution. If anything, it could make it worse. Alternatives to plastic bags have larger life cycle emissions profiles and environmental impacts. Ironically, many of these products are still made from plastic but cannot be recycled in Ohio and cost even more energy in their production.

We have seen examples from other states that costs to switch to alternative bags can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—creating new costs for businesses that’ll increase prices on families. Like taxes and fees, bag bans take money out of families’ pockets.

We are called to be good stewards of Creation, and as such, leaders in local communities are rightfully concerned about sustainability. Enforcing litter ordinances is a good place to start. Educating consumers about how to recycle bags and other plastic products is another good idea.

But product bans are not a good idea and that is why state law stands with moms, dads, and store owners to ensure stores can offer and shoppers can use whatever kind of bag, cup, or straw they would like.