The Ohio Chamber of Commerce testified in support of Senate Bill 210, legislation that protects consumers and businesses by prohibiting municipalities from imposing a tax or fee on disposable plastic bags and other containers. Local governments in Ohio have recently made moves towards enacting these misguided revenue raisers under the guise of reducing littering.
Local ordinances that impose taxes on containers add costs that directly make businesses, both large and small, less competitive. Regulations on containers also create compliance problems for businesses with operators forced to raise costs and use different packaging than a competitor just across the street but outside the municipality. This ultimately impacts consumers’ purchasing power by making every trip to a grocery store or restaurant that uses the taxed containers more expensive.
Reducing littering is important to keeping Ohio’s water and air clean, but initiatives in other municipalities to tax plastic bags have proven to only pad municipal coffers and do nothing to reduce littering that is already illegal. Studies show that the plastic bags commonly found in retailers make up a very small amount of litter, less than 2 percent. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency also administers numerous statewide programs that are better positioned to address any perceived littering problem.
Government mandates to dictate behavior changes often backfire and produce multiple unintended consequences. The potential patchwork of burdensome taxes and compliance obligations if municipalities enact container taxes and regulations will only lead to increased costs and less consumer choice. Senate Bill 210 prevents these anti-competitive initiations.