"These bags are a big source of pollutants," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. "These bags endanger fish."
The City Council's Environment Committee took up the issue Wednesday. About 15 employees of the Crown Poly bag manufacturing company arrived to say they might lose their jobs if the ban goes into effect.
"I'm worried about losing my job, I'm a single mother," said Elicia Ortiz, a Crown Poly employee. "I don't want to be another number on the unemployment line."
More than 2 billion plastic bags are used in Los Angeles every year. About 5 percent are recycled. Plastic bag companies say if more people would recycle, the ban wouldn't need to happen.
"It's not environment versus jobs," said Cathy Browne, general manager of Crown Poly. "Environmentalists want to portray it that way. We look at it as you can accomplish both."
Councilman Dennis Zine said it's all about balancing jobs and the environment.
Los Angeles County bans plastic bags, but allows customers to purchase paper bags for 10 cents. Officials said they might consider doing that in the city as well.