The highly anticipated decision by the city of Los Angeles on whether or not to ban the single use plastic bag from retail stores and restaurants was announced last Wednesday, with an overwhelming 13 to 1 vote in favor of the ban, making Los Angeles the nation’s largest city to prohibit plastic bags and the state’s 48th city overall, joining San Francisco, San Jose and Long Beach.
Experts estimate that by keeping the nearly 3 billion plastic bags currently used in the city of Los Angeles out of landfills, residents will also experience fewer environmental pollutants and cleaner oceans. But not everyone agrees. Representatives of plastic bag manufacturing plants suggest the measure could cost many Los Angeles residents their jobs. The 1 nay vote, issued by Councilman Bernard Parks, represents his concern over legal challenges and health concerns over possible food contamination from reusable bags.
Large markets and stores within Los Angeles will have six months and smaller stores will have to the end of 2012 to phase out the plastic bags. This does not count against plastic bags used for produce and bulk items. The same measure also aims to decrease the use of paper bags, as well, which will still be allowed as an option, but stores and restaurants will be required to charge a ten-cent surcharge per bag.
Last year, the county of Los Angeles enforced a ban on plastic bags, which has already taken effect in unincorporated areas of the county, but the measure has been challenged in court.
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