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L.A. (Almost) Approves Citywide Plastic Bag Ban

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The end of plastic shopping bags is near. (Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)
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L.A. shoppers, you probably have until January 1, 2014 to enjoy those free plastic bags. The City Council voted today to approve a plastic bag ban, with just one council member voting against it.Los Angeles follows several cities that have already adopted a ban on plastic bags, including West Hollywood, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Manhattan Beach.

If you live or shop in those areas, you know what the ban means: No more free plastic bags and paper bags will now be 10 cents per bag. (Yes, that's 20 cents for a double bag.) Shoppers are encouraged to use their own recyclable bags, many of which are sold at stores like Trader Joe's.

The vote at today's city council meeting was 11 to 1 in favor of the ban on single-use plastic bags. This is a tentative approval, according to City News Service. The council will cast a final vote next week that would make the city the largest in the nation to enact such a ban. Councilman Bernard Parks cast the lone dissenting vote, CNS reports. Since the vote was not unanimous, the ordinance will go to a second vote next week.

"We've seen plastic bags clogging our gutters, polluting our rivers and piling up on our beaches," Councilmember José Huizar said in a statement. "The time for the City of Los Angeles to take action to protect our environment is now. And every big city in the nation can follow our lead."

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If it passes the second vote, the ban will go into effect on January 1, 2014 for large stores that make more than $2 million a year, but smaller stores that carry a limited amount of groceries will have until July 2014 to make the changeover.

A statewide ban proposed by a former city councilman, Alex Padilla, was defeated during a Senate vote last month.

Not everyone thinks it's a great idea. Mark Daniels, Chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, released this statement:

By voting to ban plastic bags and impose a 10-cent tax on paper bags, the Los Angeles City Council has sent a terrible message to manufacturers, small businesses and working families in the City of Los Angeles. After recently being voted down in the State Senate, the California Grocers Association continues to peddle this bag ban and tax scam around the state because big grocers stand to make millions from collecting every penny of the tax on paper bags. This ordinance has been sold to the public through junk science in the name of the environment, but bag bans and taxes don’t help the environment—they make things worse. A tax on consumers is hurtful and, worse, a ban on plastic bags threatens the jobs of the 1,000 hard-working employees of Los Angeles area plastic bag manufacturers.
Not only is this poor economic policy, it will do more harm to the environment by pushing residents towards higher carbon footprint products. Reusable bags require significantly more water and energy to produce than plastic bags and emit more greenhouse gases in their life cycle. Furthermore, reusable bags are shipped from overseas, are predominantly made from foreign oil, and cannot be recycled. By passing this ordinance, the L.A. City Council has sadly ignored the facts and voted in favor of limiting consumer choice, increasing grocery bills, killing local jobs and harming the environment.

Related:
Huntington Beach One Step Closer to Plastic Bag Ban
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