Bexley's ban on single-use plastics still on hold in tough time

CHRIS BOURNEA
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ThisWeek group

The city of Bexley has continued to postpone the first phase of its single-use plastics ban and has delayed the start of the ban's second phase to 2022 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to those decisions, Mayor Ben Kessler said, the city also has rescheduled its annual community cleanup and Green Bexley Fair, originally scheduled in the spring, for Sept. 26.

The first phase of the single-use plastics ban, which prohibits use of plastic grocery and carryout bags at all businesses within Bexley city limits and at all city facilities and city-sponsored events, began in January after Bexley City Council approved Ordinance 14-19 in May 2019. The city suspended the ban after the coronavirus outbreak in March.

"At the moment, through the public health orders, there is a hold on the plastic-bag ban just because of the concern about reusable bags, and there may be contamination from the virus," Kessler said. "Throughout the span of the pandemic, we're going to be in a situation where reusable bags are not going to be as encouraged."

The second phase of the single-use plastics ban, prohibiting use of plastic beverage straws, stirrers, drink stoppers and cutlery at local businesses, was scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2021, but it has been pushed back to 2022, Kessler said. He said he plans to bring amended language reflecting the postponement before council at a meeting before the end of the year.

"Restaurants are already under stress ... so the last thing we want to do is contribute to the financial stress," Kessler said.

The single-use plastics ban originated from discussions by Bexley's Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee, which involved residents working to identify solutions to help the city promote environmentally friendly practices, Kessler said.

During the committee's most recent meeting Aug. 18, members discussed plans to hold the community cleanup and Green Bexley Fair on Sept. 26.

The cleanup engages volunteers to pick up litter around the community and encourages residents to drop off used batteries and other items that are difficult to recycle at a central location.

The committee still is finalizing plans for the event, Kessler said, with details to be posted on the city's website: bexley.org.

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