Ban the Bag: Support for Plastic Bag Reduction Strategies in Northeast Ohio
Author: Jill F. Bartolotta and Scott D. Hardy,Issue #174
Society’s use of plastic is increasing, while the ability to properly manage plastic waste is decreasing. In response, improved waste management systems and the adoption of reusable products made from sustainable materials are needed. Municipal governments in the United States are beginning to institute policies reducing unlimited free access to plastic products such as bags, straws, and Styrofoam. However, some state governments in the Great Lakes region, and elsewhere, have responded by making these pro-environmental policies illegal. Such policies shift the onus of using less plastic to local businesses and conscious consumers. In response, this project sought to determine the effectiveness of a plastic bag ban, supported by targeted education and outreach, at several local businesses in northeast Ohio. Results suggest that the initial implementation and non-enforcement phase of the bag ban did not lead to a reduction in the use of plastic bags. However, survey respondents indicate they are supportive of policies reducing accessibility and unlimited availability of plastic bags. Results further show most people have access to their own reusable bags and support businesses who charge for, or no longer offer, plastic bags. In conclusion, voluntary reduction of bag use by customers is not effective and store policies or legislation is needed to reduce the use of plastic bags.