The city of Bexley's Environmental Sustainability Advisory Council's 2020 agenda includes the official launch of a new program designed to save Bexley residents money on solar panels and other energy-efficiency improvements.

It also includes planning the annual community cleanup and Green Bexley Fair and a screening of a documentary to bring awareness to food-waste solutions.

ESAC members discussed the year's agenda during a Jan. 21 meeting at Bexley City Hall.

Mayor Ben Kessler said the city's residential property-assessed clean-energy program, which council approved last year, is scheduled to officially launch in the first half of 2020. The cities of Bexley and Toledo were among the first Ohio municipalities to offer a PACE program to their residents and have authorized agreements with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to administer the program, Kessler said.

"Residents will have access to better interest rates and longer terms to help encourage feasible solar, windows, insulation, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and other energy efficient improvements," he said.

Bexley still is determining an official launch date and website for the PACE program and will announce details in the next few months, Kessler said.

ESAC members also discussed the progress of the city's ban on single-use plastics. A ban on plastic bags began at the start of the year, and starting Jan. 1, 2021, a ban on beverage straws, stirrers, drink stoppers and cutlery is scheduled to take effect.

"One of our goals with this is not to have perma-waste like plastics out in the open in the environment forever," Kessler said. "Compostable (items), while it still takes a good amount of time to break down, but it will not be here 500 years from now."

Lesli Mautz, co-proprietor of the Bexley Bed and Breakfast, 519 S. Drexel Ave., with her husband, Mike, and a representative with the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce, said she has had discussions with local restaurant owners about offering compostable or reusable utensils as alternatives to plastics.

"The best thing is reusing," rather than handing out disposable plastic utensils with carryout orders, Mautz said.

Although reusable utensils might be the most environmentally friendly option, they also can be the most inconvenient for customers who purchase items to go and costly for businesses, Mautz said.

The ban on plastic utensils is "an ongoing conversation, and as they see the (plastic) bags ban being effective, they know it's coming," she said.

In other business, the ESAC announced a free screening of the "Wasted" documentary about food waste is scheduled March 2 at the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St. The event will feature a panel discussion with environmental experts, with the start time and names of panelists to be announced in the next couple of weeks, ESAC representative members said.

The subject of the documentary coincides with a food-recycling program last year, and residents have until Feb. 24 to sign up at bexley.org/food-waste to receive a free food waste container by March 3 and participate in the 2020 program.

The group also announced that the city's annual Green Bexley Fair and Greater Bexley Cleanup would be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 25.

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