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Los Angeles Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban Now Extends to Small Grocers

Los Angeles Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban Now Extends to Small Grocers

Two years ago, Los Angeles officials voted to phase out the use of plastic bags. The ban, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, is now finally being expanded to include small convenience stores that sell dry groceries, canned goods or both nonfood and perishable items.

Large scale and chain grocery stores and supermarkets have had plastic bags banned since January, as well as having a 10 cent charge on paper bags, in an attempt to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags. Plastic is bad, but paper isn’t the best either; the best option is reusable, and an effective ban on single-use plastic also requires encouraging people to go reusable. Now the city ban is going to the smaller convenience stores as well, something that shop owners are a bit nervous about as providing paper bags at a fee feels like risky business.

Shop owner Zaman Amini told the Los Angeles Times that when his customers complain about the fee, sometimes he gives them the paper bag for free in order to protect his business. “People don’t like the charges, so sometimes I don’t charge them,” Amini said. “I don’t want to lose customers.”

But for the City of Los Angeles, including small grocery stores and markets in the ban is essential in ensuring the overall effect of the ban. “We are more conscious about how these bags hurt the environment,” City Councilman Paul Krekorian said in a statement. “By expanding the ban to all grocery stores and markets, Los Angeles is truly showing our commitment to a more responsible and sustainable future.”

It’s not all plastic bags though. Clear plastic sacks for produce and meat are still available, as well as bags for pharmacy items. But at the checkout, you won’t be able to opt for the “plastic” option.

While the bag ban may pose a business dilemma for small stores that are concerned over customers who won’t be happy with a tax on paper, in terms of economics, the ban is a smart move for LA. A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that California spends about $500 million per year keeping trash out of its waterways; and a lot of that trash is plastic bags, which aren’t biodegradable. “Beginning in the 1960s, the growing dominance of plastic literally changed the landscape. Plastic grocery bags caked in the bottom of trash cans, accumulated in storm drains, caught on tree branches, and ended up in nearby arroyos and the ocean,” Gloria Molina, a supervisor for Los Angeles County, wrote in an opinion piece earlier this year.

Fortunately for California, Los Angeles isn’t the only city to ban plastic bags; currently in the state there have been 67 city ordinances to implement plastic bag bans or fees.

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Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar

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71 comments

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10:38AM PST on Dec 8, 2014

We've been doing this for at least 2 years in my city and....guess what? We're all doing just FINE without those damnable plastic bags! It's as much a habit as carrying my purse...we keep bags in our cars and carry them into the store.

Easy.

4:40AM PDT on Sep 17, 2014

Our city doesn't ban plastic bags (yet). But, I have been using my own cloth bags for years now! I even have my husband taking a bag when he is going to the store!
I don't live near an ocean, but I hate to see plastic bags blowing in the trees!

11:53AM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

I work in retail. I ALWAYS ask before wasting another plastic bag. I agree with California on this one. People will adapt, plastic can't!

5:22AM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

9:21PM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

I for one love the idea. The first day I complained a little because the stores were giving the old bags that ripped, but now they have these cute little recyclable bags. It is a good thing for the environment.

10:33AM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

This is one instance where California has taken the lead in environmental action. Sadly for them so many in the state thumb their collective noses. These bag laws may seem small but they are one of the best things we can do for our oceans, lakes, streams and wildlife.

7:18AM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

I live in Los Angeles, and I have learned to carry cloth bags with me. You get used to it, and it's a good thing.

11:45PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

My state is proposing charging for plastic bags. I'm all for it. I see people waste plastic bags. They will take a plastic bag for 1 item or double bag their purchases. How wasteful.

9:44PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

David F Plastic bags do not decompose and end up in landfills or our oceans, killing seabirds and marine life. Of course we must pass laws that outlaw, and eliminate them. Your republican party has no problem criminalizing a harmless weed, marijuana, ruining peoples lives, and incarcerating them for a harmless plant that can help sick people, and has never killed anyone. Plastic bags are killing our seabirds and marine life, so this law is more than justified. You need to take a trip to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, and see for yourself the damage plastic bags are doing to our marine life, before you criticize a completely common sense law.

7:28PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

Anyone against this just doesn't care about the enviorment! We've got to do all we can to clean up the oceans and all the areas where these bags end up. It's bad enough that the Navy and all the cruise lines use the ocean as a dumping ground but an investesment in reuseable bags isn't that expensive and they carry more without breaking and polluting our enviorment even more. Their also easier to carry and are washable! I commend Los Angles for implimenting this ban and would like to see it all across our nation. Even the paper bags cause more harm to the enviorment by costing us more trees! We have to wake up to the fact that we're destroying our only place to live not to mention all the animals that die from ingesting these darn things!

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