Los Angeles Considers Plastic & Paper Bag Ban
September 13, 2011
A lawmaker in Los Angeles
has introduced legislation that would prohibit all grocery stores in the city
from providing paper and plastic bags, and instead require them to give away or
sell only reusable totes. The proposed measure is far more sweeping than
current laws in cities like San Francisco,
where plastic bags are banned, but paper bags are still permitted. "We're
taking the next step," said Los Angeles City Councilor Paul Koretz, who has proposed the ban. "With paper bags,
you're still generating litter."
According to a report produced by the Los Angeles Bureau of
Sanitation, approximately 2.3 billion plastic bags and 400 million paper bags
are issued annually in the city. Data shows only 5% of plastic bags and 21% of
paper bags are recycled. Environmentalists believe that while plastic bags can
be especially harmful in polluting waterways, paper bags can also create
problems for an ecosystem. "We're hoping that more of these local policies
will be a wake-up call," says Kirsten James, a spokesperson for watchdog
group Heal the Bay.
Besides San Francisco,
several other cities in California
have recently banned the use of plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores.
Santa Monica's ban, for example,
went into effect on September 1. Officials in San Mateo
and Millbrae will formally discuss
potential bans at public meetings over the next month. To date, though, only Los
Angeles is debating a plastic and paper bag ban.
Under the Los Angeles
proposal, stores that ignore the ban would be fined, with an exemption granted
for small plastic bags meant to keep raw vegetables and meats separated from
other groceries. Before the ban can become law, the measure needs to be
approved by the Los Angeles City Council's Energy and Environment Committee.