Bye-Bye, Baggie: LA Largest City to Ban Plastic Bags

Plastic bags

It’s been a banner week for California with the Supreme Court ruling that Prop 8, which banned gay marriage in the state, was unconstitutional. Another victory in Los Angeles has also earned quite a bit of attention as well: It has become the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags. So, don’t plan to put all those wedding presents in a plastic bag…

After being debated by City Council, a 9–1 vote passed the ordinance that outlaws single-use plastic bags, similar to one adopted in 2011 by unincorporated Los Angeles County.

Councilmember Huizar said, in a release, “We’ve seen plastic bags clogging our gutters, polluting our rivers and piling up on our beaches. The City of Los Angeles took a stand today for our children to protect our environment, which also sends a strong and clear message to every big city in the nation that they should follow our lead.” The cost of cleaning up plastic bag litter is about $2 million a year, according to the city.

Effective January 1, 2014, the city’s large stores (grossing more than $2 million annually or take up retail space of more than 10,000 square feet) will no longer put your purchases in plastic bags. Smaller stores will have an additional six months to phase out their plastic. Customers can purchase paper bags for 10 cents, or bring their own. The ban doesn’t effect plastic bags offered in produce and bulk food sections.

To help implement the ban, the city will foot the bill for one million reusable shopping bags to be distributed in low-income areas of the city.

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Image: derriel street photography

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. Twitter @jillettinger | www.jillettinger.com.