REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) — Following Bexley’s lead, Reynoldsburg councilmembers are considering an ordinance to ban single-use plastics.

Plastic bags cause problems in storm drains, get caught in trees and regularly gum up machinery in recycling facilities like those at Rumpke. And microplastics, a byproduct from plastics in the environment, are now found in people’s bodies, according to reports to Reynoldsburg City Council.

At meetings in January and April, councilors discussed a proposed single-use plastics ban ordinance as a “work session only,” according to meeting notes. Councilwoman Shanette Strickland sponsored the item.

During the January meeting, Bexley Environmental Sustainability Advisor Committee chair Elizabeth Elman spoke to city council about Bexley’s ban, which came into force on Jan. 1, 2020.

“We really wanted to reduce litter,” Elman said during the meeting. “Litter in the creek, in the parking lot and throughout the city was something that we wanted to get rid of. We questioned what would this look like for us? For us it was not only getting rid of single use plastic bags but also encouraging residents to reuse bags.”

But businesses would incur costs, and that could come back to bite the city, attorney Chris Shook pointed out.

“These businesses would have to incur significant cost to comply with this ordinance and for it to be later overturned by a court, the city could potentially be subject to liability for the cost of those implementations,” Shook said during the meeting.

“I have some concerns there and I think it’s important to expressed those to counsel, while state law doesn’t prohibit a ban, it certainly seems to prohibit any enforcement mechanism,” Shook told the council.

“Plastic bags and tanglers in general can be a real nuisance for us,” said Gayane Makaryan, communications manager at Rumpke Waste and Recycling. “They get caught in our equipment and our machinery, get caught on the disk screens and inevitably shut down the equipment. For every time that we’re down, we’re losing money and the opportunity to recycle.”

Plastic bags can only be recycled by taking them back to the store. Another option is to drop plastic bags at a food pantry to bag food, Makaryan said.

The bags must not be used to hold recyclables for curbside recycling, or they will get caught in the sorting machinery.

Residents can typically recycle the following items in their Rumpke curbside recycling cart:

  • Plastic bottles, jugs and tubs
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aluminum cans
  • Steel cans and lids
  • Paperboard (like cereal boxes)
  • Cardboard
  • Office paper
  • Envelopes and junk mail
  • Newspapers, magazines and inserts
  • Telephone books and catalogs
  • Cartons