By a vote of 13 to 1, the Los Angeles City Council has approved a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines. Over the next 12 months, some 7,500 stores must phase out plastic bags.
After a four-month environmental review of the bag ban, an ordnance will go into effect. Larger stores will then have six months to phase out the use of the bags while smaller ones will have twelve months. Retailers must charge 10 cents per paper bag starting one year from the date on which the plastic bag ban goes into effect.
48 other California cities including San Francisco and San Jose already have plastic bag bans. Los Angeles’s decision to “just say no” to plastic is of huge significance, as it it the US’s second-largest city.
Environmentalists and clean-water advocates are hailing the ban as, indeed, a major victory in stopping the scourge that plastic bags have become, adding to the trash that clogs landfills, waterways and the ocean. The Los Angeles Times quotes attorney H. David Nahai, a former top executive at the Department of Water and Power:
Plastic harms our environment. It is a threat to the coastal economy. It is a danger to marine life and it is an unconscionable burden to taxpayers who have to foot the bill for cleanups year after year.
Plastic bag manufacturers have objected to the ban, arguing that it destroys jobs.
While the City Council steered clear of an additional ban on paper bags, Councilman Paul Koretz noted that, in two years, city officials would conduct a study to consider banning the use of paper bags, too. According to Jennie R. Romer of plasticbaglaws.org, “Los Angeles County’s 10-cent fee on paper bags has led to a 94% reduction in the use of those bags.”
Could a plastic bag ban in the US’s largest city, the New York, be next?
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Photo by Julian Stallabrass