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Plastic bag ban moved forward by LA City Council

May 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a plastic bag ban, but don't expect those bags to disappear overnight.

The council voted 13-1 to approve an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic bags. The measure still has to go through an environmental review, be approved by the mayor and the city attorney, return to the council for another vote, and be approved again by the mayor before the ordinance goes into effect. The process is expected to take as long as six months.

It wouldn't be L.A. without some serious theater. Outside City Hall, a man dressed as a reusable bag fought off a plastic bag character. Inside the chambers, one speaker demonstrated the dangers of plastic bags by putting the bag over his head.

Even celebrities like Julia Louis-Dreyfus bagged on the bags.

"In L.A. County and the city of Calabasas, 90 percent of customers are bringing their own bags to shop. So does LA really want to lose to Calabasas and Oklahoma City in the same week? I don't think so," the actress said to the council.

Once the ordinance is set, Los Angeles will become the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags. While the move has a lot of support, there are also plenty of people against it.

The ban is a watered-down version of the original rule. It does not include a ban on paper bags. Instead, stores will be charging 10 cents per paper bag starting a year after the ordinance takes effect. Large retailers will have about six months to phase out the plastic bags, and smaller retailers will have a year.

This ban is very similar to programs adopted by cities like Long Beach, Calabasas, Santa Monica, Pasadena and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. L.A. County reports that its ban has led to a 94-percent drop in the use of single-use bags like plastic bags.

On the other hand, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents people who manufacture plastic bags, says hundreds of people who work in the industry are now going to lose their jobs.

The group released the following statement:

"At a time when we should be creating more manufacturing jobs, this ban takes them away, while pushing people to imported reusable bags, which are a less-environmentally friendly option."


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