Last month, Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines. The City Council voted 13 to 1 to phase out plastic bags over the next 12 months at an estimated 7,500 stores.
After the City Council’s vote, there will be a four-month environmental review of the bag ban, followed by passage of an ordinance putting it into effect.
According to the Los Angeles Times, larger stores would then have six months to phase out plastic bags and smaller markets a 12-month phase-out period. For paper bags, retailers would be required to charge 10 cents per bag starting one year after the plastic bag is enacted.
City officials will conduct a study in two years to determine whether the prohibition should be expanded to include paper.
“My hope is that so few paper bags will be used as a result of this measure that the formal ban on paper bags may not even be necessary,”said Councilman Paul Koretz.
An attorney and former executive at the LA Department of Water and Power, commented that plastic bags are a threat to the coastal economy. “It is a danger to marine life and it is an unconscionable burden to taxpayers who have to foot the bill for cleanups year after year”
The Times notes dozens of other cities and counties up and down the state adopted similar bans. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointees on the five-member Board of Public Works voted last year to embrace a ban on all single-use bags, saying that paper bags lead to deforestation.
In 2011, Seattle and Portland banned plastic bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets. In 2010, Brownsville, Texas and Bethel, Alaska, approved similar bans.
Westport, Connecticut, banned plastic bags in grocery stores, and in 2009, Edmonds, Washington, banned plastic bags at retail stores.
Last Month, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to outlaw plastic bags at every locale in the state, although some plastic bags will still be allowed under exemption.
Katharine Mieszkowski, a senior writer for Salon characterized plastic bags as the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions.
Mieszkowski notes one recent study found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead. “Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store.”
It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil, says Mieszkowski.
Plastic Bags Restricted or Banned in 25% of the World
Similar plastic bag bans have been imposed in parts of India, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Cities banning plastic bans in India include Delhi, Mumbai, Karwar, Tirumala, Vasco, and Rajasthan.
Italy banned plastic bags entirely in 2011. Last year, the Republic of Congo enacted legislation to ban plastic bags, and Rwanda has had legislation against plastic bags in place since 2006.