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Plastic bags could cost shopper 15 cents

January 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A Van Nuys lawmaker wants Californians to shop with reusable bags, and not plastic ones. If his proposal goes through, plastic bags could get expensive for shoppers and stores.The environmental group Californians Against Waste says residents of the Golden State use 19 billion plastic bags a year, and many end up as litter or in landfills.

While the number should lessen because of increased recycling sites, one Southern California lawmaker wants to go further by imposing a fee on shoppers - as much as 15 cents a bag - to reduce use.

"I think if people quit using plastic bags, it'd be better on the environment. But 15 cents is a lot for one bag," said shopper Todd Noste.

IKEA already does it -- five cents a bag, which encourages many customers to bring in their own reusable bag.

But one major chain isn't enough. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, has a proposal that would force more stores to reduce the number of plastic bags they give out -- a 35 percent by 2011 and 70 percent by 2013.

"I think we can. Just encourage people to use the recycled ones, or bring their own bag -- carry those instead of the plastic ones," said market owner Avtar Dodd.

If stores don't meet those reduction goals, they have to either stop giving out plastic bags, or charge customers up to 15 cents apiece.

The Van Nuys Democrat says Californians have got to move away from plastic bags for the sake of the environment.

"We have over 250 species that have been affected by plastic bag waste. It's a significant environmental problem," said Assemblyman Levine. "Plastic bags that we use every day take about 4,000 barrels of oil just to produce those plastic bags."

Local governments keep the fee for anti-litter programs.

Still, some shoppers say they won't change their behavior -- even for a good cause.

"I'm forgetful. I have a lot on my plate, and the last thing I'm going to remember is to bring a grocery bag," said shopper Amber Bernhard.


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