by Jodi Summers
Los Angeles will soon become the largest city in the country to approve a ban on plastic bags. The decision came down in May, as a standing-room-only crowd packed City Hall as the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to approve a ban on plastic bags and impose a 10-cent charge on paper bags at convenience stores and supermarkets in the nation’s second-largest city.
With the council’s action, Los Angeles and our 3.8 million residents become the largest group in the United States to formally endorse a sweeping ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.
“The Los Angeles City Council took a prudent step to protect our environment and bolster our economy,” said Kirsten James, director of water quality for the Santa Monica-based nonprofit group Heal the Bay. “The vote further emphasizes the fact that the days are numbered for single-use bags in California.”
Nearly 50 other municipalities in California have adopted ordinances in the state banning single-use plastic bags and most also ban or impose fees for paper bags. Cal cities that have passed single-use plastic bag bans include San Francisco, Santa Monica, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Calabasas, Long Beach and Carpinteria. Environmentalists hope the move by the Los Angeles City Council will provide momentum for a statewide ban.
“I’m deliriously excited about the passage of this measure. Ever since I first heard about the floating plastic island in the Pacific, while I was still in the state legislature, I have been trying to move the ball forward on banning plastic bags in this state,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, a chief sponsor of the measure, in a statement.
It is estimated that 1.2 to 2.3 billion single-use plastic carryout bags and 400 million single-use paper bags are used annually in Los Angeles. A report by the Board of Public Works cited studies showing that single-use paper bags have greater greenhouse gas emissions through their production and use tan a single-use plastic bag, prompting paper bags to also be targeted.
This concept became too much too soon, and then the bill stalled until City Councilman Eric Garcetti co-introduced a motion that imposed a 10-cent fee on paper bags instead of an outright ban. The proposal is very similar to what has been working effectively in Santa Monica for the past year. Impressed by the model, Los Angeles City Council voted nearly unanimously to endorse the substitute motion.
The new ordinance will likely be approved before the end of the year. Large retailers can anticipate a six-month phase-out of single-use plastic bags. There will be a one-year grace period for smaller retailers. All retailers would be required to charge 10 cents for a paper bag as an incentive for shoppers to bring reusable bags to the market beginning one year after the program’s enactment.
“City Council approved a motion that will move us one step closer to making Los Angeles a greener, cleaner, more sustainable city,” noted Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “The little things matter—removing plastic bags that clutter our streets and damage our waterways will go a long way towards protecting Angelenos and Los Angeles wildlife for generations.”
Cathy Browne, general manager of plastic bag maker Crown Poly in Huntington Park, said the council shouldn’t be mandating consumer behavior and should let the market dictate consumer choice.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in November 2010 approved a plastic bag ban in unincorporated areas that went into effect July 1, 2011, at large stores and on Jan. 1, 2012, at smaller retailers. A lawsuit claimed the 10-cent fee on paper bags imposed by the county was an illegal tax under Proposition 26, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant in March rejected the argument in a tentative ruling.
2 Comments »
Leave a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.