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L.A. Moves Ahead on Aggressive Plastic and Paper Bag Ban

Photo by Jon Nightingale via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council took steps forward in crafting an aggressive ban on single-use plastic and paper bags. The council's Energy and Environment Committee unanimously passed a recommendation for a three-phase ban that would, if enacted, become "one of the most-far reaching measures in the nation," describes Heal the Bay.

The ban would find single-use plastic bags at retail locations banned for an initial six-month period, then for the following six months a 10-cent surcharge would be placed on paper bags, and, following that period, single-use paper and plastic bags would be banned outright in the city of Los Angeles.

Though the recommendation, led by Councilman Paul Koretz, was favored by the committee, and supported by environmental groups, there was testimony from those who believe such a ban would be more destructive than helpful. Koretz "compared the [a plastic bag manufacturing] company to makers of horse-drawn carriages at the start of the 20th century," at Wednesday's meeting, when the discussion turned to loss of jobs, according to the L.A. Times.

Via email, we received a statement from Mark Daniels, Vice President of Sustainability and Environmental Policy for Hilex Poly and Chair of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, in opposition of L.A.'s proposed bag ban:

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“The proposed policy will have no real impact on litter, instead it will only force residents to purchase less environmentally-friendly alternatives like reusable bags, nearly all of which are not recyclable, are less sanitary, are made in China using foreign oil, and often contain heavy metals. Worse, bag bans inflict a regressive tax on the disadvantaged, impose a burden on small businesses, and are a threat to local manufacturing jobs. More than a thousand workers in the Los Angeles area alone rely on quality jobs in the plastic bag manufacturing industry and urge the City Council to consider the impact this legislation will have on them and their families.”

However, as Heal the Bay notes, the city's Board of Public Works provided testimony that aimed to "debunk claims from bag manufactures that the ban would create job losses."

None of the bag makers, however, are based in the City of Los Angeles, which keeps the Council from being in a position to help those businesses. "I wish that we could do something to assist them," said Councilman Richard Alarcon.

The City would provide time to work with retail businesses to help them adjust, and consumers would need to adapt, which Councilman Dennis Zine says is realistic: "People will adjust," he said. "They'll adapt ... and learn to take [reusable bags] with them."

A vote on the recommended ban is expected in the full City Council in the coming weeks. Should the recommendation pass, the next step would be for the city to conduct a full environmental review of the issue as proposed before drafting an ordinance for further approval.