Los Angeles, California has become the largest city in the country to ban plastic bags. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to phase out single-use plastic bags over the next 16 months. The LA plastic bag ban is expected to affect about 7,500 grocery and convenience stores.
After the phase out of plastic bags, retailers can charge 10 cents for paper bags if shoppers don’t bring their own reusable bags. The city’s program would be modeled after bag bans in other California cities like those in Long Beach, Calabasas, Santa Monica, unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and Pasadena. The plastic bag ban will take effect later this year once a four-month environmental impact report of the bag ban is complete and the council adopts an ordinance.
Once the plastic bag ban ordinance goes into effect, larger stores will have six months to stop using plastic bags and smaller stores will have 12 months. After that, retailers will be required to charge 10 cents for each paper bag they provide customers if they don’t bring their own reusable bag.
Councilman Paul Koretz, who hoped to ban paper bags as well said, “My hope is that so few paper bags will be used as a result of this measure that the formal ban on paper bags may not even be necessary.”
The Los Angeles City Council estimates that Californians use 12 billion plastic bags a year and that less than 5% of the state’s plastic bags are recycled.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement, “Los Angeles is leading the state and the nation. With this new measure, 1 in 4 Californians will be living plastic bag-free. We hope our actions will encourage other big cities, counties and states to take action.”
California assemblywoman Julia Brownley in a statement, “Los Angeles’ bag ban ordinance is a significant step toward eliminating single-use bags around our state. There is no time to waste in reversing the alarming 100-fold increase of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. I applaud the City Council for standing up to the plastic bag manufacturers who lobbied hard to defeat this ban and I will continue to work on a statewide ban to make an even larger dent in our plastic bag habit. All Californians benefit from a healthier environment.”
LA Plastic Bag Ban
According to the Times, employees of plastic bag manufacturers, wearing T-shirts reading “Don’t Kill My Job,” pleaded with council members to reject the ban, saying it could lead to job losses. “My family depends on my job and my benefits, too,” said Alejandro Ortega, ab employee of Crown Poly. An industry group warned that the council’s decision will threaten the jobs of 2,000 workers statewide and said it is keeping open the option of filing a legal challenge. “With this bag ban, the city chose to take a simplistic approach that takes away consumer choice instead of pursuing meaningful programs that encourage greater recycling of plastic bags and wraps, while preserving jobs,” said Mark Daniels, chairman of the nonprofit American Progressive Bag Alliance.