ORANGE — Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 242 into law earlier this month blocking local bans on plastic bags for one year. This leaves Orange Village in a tough spot with its ban on plastic bags that has been in place since April of 2019.

HB 242 was authored by Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester, and Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport. The original bill would have permanently blocked local governments from implementing bag bans. In May, the Ohio Senate passed an amended version, which is a one-year moratorium on local bag bans.

Orange Village was the first municipality in the state to pass a plastic bag ban, spearheaded by Council President Brandon Duber. Cuyahoga County followed, in addition to the city of Bexley.

“I don’t want to take a step backwards for what we’ve done,” Mr. Duber said on Monday.

“I think the community is proud of us for making the decisions we have.”

Village Law Director Steve Byron said that council has a decision to make. At the Oct. 14 meeting, he said that council needs to go into executive session to discuss the matter. They have not yet scheduled an executive session, but Mr. Duber said they will likely do so at the next couple of meetings in November.

Police Chief Chris Kostura said that the plastic bag ban has been successful in the village. He said that the compliance among businesses is “terrific.” Many businesses at Pinecrest shopping center already used paper bags prior to the plastic bag ban. When others received the notification from the village of the ban, they began switching over to paper and encouraged their customers to use reusable bags.

While Orange’s plastic bag ban had little resistance, Cuyahoga County’s ban faced more challenges. Many people support the bans because they are environmentally friendly, but others have concerns about how they could be a detriment to businesses.

Jeff Heinen, co-owner of Heinen’s Fine Foods, has said that the Cuyahoga County ban would cost the company as much as $3 million due to the price of paper bags. The county’s enforcement of their plastic bag ban was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Giant Eagle was also on a path to eliminate plastic bags but backpedaled due to concerns of the coronavirus being spread on reusable bags.

Both Heinen’s and Giant Eagle are allowing reusable bags, but only if the customer packs his or her own groceries.

“I think he’s a lying hypocrite,” Mr. Duber said of Gov. DeWine. “He has clearly caved under political pressure. He said all along he would veto it and now he didn’t.

“His rationale was something to the effect of ‘because of COVID-19 it’s just for now.’ That’s the most ridiculous thing ever. He clearly caved to Republicans in the house and senate who are unhappy with how he’s handled COVID-19, and this is his way of making amends.”

Council members are expected to discuss the ban with Mr. Byron in the coming weeks.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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