This week, officials in Los Angeles began enforcing a single-use plastic bag ban at smaller retailers, expanding a rule that previously only affected larger stores. In addition to supermarkets and big drug stores, the ban now applies to shops with less than 10,000 square feet of retail space and/or businesses that take in under $2 million in annual sales. “These flimsy, polluting, choking plastic bags will no longer be allowed at the little mom-and-pop stores either,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz.
While single-use plastic bags are prohibited, customers will still be able to purchase paper bags at checkout for 10 cents apiece. As is the case in other cities, the ban does include exemptions, allowing customers to use plastic bags for fruits, vegetables, meats and pharmacy items. Restaurants and department stores are also exempted from the ban, according to the law, which was passed last summer. Retailers that violate the ban could be fined up to $100 for a first offense, with escalating penalties for additional infractions.
“We are more conscious about how these bags hurt the environment,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian. “By expanding the ban to all grocery stores and markets, Los Angeles is truly showing our commitment to a more responsible and sustainable future.”
In 2013, Los Angeles became the largest city in the U.S. to pass a single-use plastic bag ban. Since, lawmakers in Chicago have passed a partial ban and similar legislation has been introduced in New York City. Within California, leaders in more than 100 communities – including San Francisco, San Jose and Long Beach – have passed ordinances outlawing single-use plastic bags. Leaders throughout these areas have continually encouraged residents to shop with reusable totes, even sponsoring programs offering free bags.