Los Angeles Set to Ban Plastic Bags

by | Jun 20, 2013

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plastic bagLos Angeles is set to ban plastic grocery bags, making it the largest US city to prohibit single-use plastic bags at supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores and retail chains that sell food such as Target and Walmart.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-1 on Tuesday to adopt the ban, giving preliminary approval to the ordinance that will return to the council for a second vote next week before moving to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is expected to sign the law. The rule also sets a 10-cent price on paper bags to encourage customers to bring their own re-usable bags. Plastic bags used for produce are exempt from the ordinance.

Large stores will be outlawed from using plastic bags as of Jan. 1, 2014. The ban will extend to smaller stores on July 1, 2014. The city can fine stores up to $500 for each plastic bag it gives to a customer.

Some 2.3 billion single-use plastic carryout bags and 400 million single-use paper bags are used annually in Los Angeles, according to a city report. The city estimates only 5 percent of these plastic bags and 21 percent of the paper bags are recycled. Most end up in landfills — or littering the parks, streets, beaches and waterways. Los Angles spends millions of dollars annually on prevention, cleanup and other litter abatement activities, the city attorney says.

LA’s ordinance makes it the 77th jurisdiction in California to phase out plastic grocery bags. Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, says by 2014, one-third of the state’s residents — 13 million people — will live in a jurisdiction that has banned single-use plastic food bags.

Earlier this week, California’s Senate Bill 405, a bill to ban single-use plastic bags, failed to get the votes it needed in the state Senate. But the bill could be reconsidered by a Senate committee and could return to the floor of the upper chamber, Waste & Recycling News reported. The bill would ban supermarkets and large retailers from handing out the bags, starting in 2015, and would expand to smaller stores in 2016.

Photo Credit: Californians Against Waste

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