It’s About Time the City of Los Angeles Say’s Farewell to Single-Use Plastic Bags

Today, May 23, 2012, marks an eventful day for all Angelenos. The Los Angeles City Council overwhelmingly approved a ban on single-use plastic bags at checkout counters as well as a 10-cent fee on paper bags.

With a population of 4 million, I do believe this could be a great start for the City of Los Angeles and will hopefully start a trend for other large cities and/or states will follow. Although this ban has just been enacted in L.A. city, I did witness this development for the first time earlier this year when I was grocery shopping in San Pedro at a Smart & Final. While out shopping with my cousin’s wife, I noticed her using a reusable bag and was a bit perplexed seeing that she never used them before. So I began to inquire the reasoning behind this wonderful transition, she informed me that her store started charging 10-cents per bag and she was not going to pay for a bag. I remember thinking to myself, what a marvelous idea. I for one, have been in transition for the past couple of years, trying to be more mindful and Be Green.

But not everyone is on board, the industry counters the ban by saying it could possibly cause job-loss and possibly health issues. Of course, I don’t agree with anyone being hurt financially by this ban, so I am hoping this won’t be the case. I guess we won’t know until it goes into effect. According to city staff, the jobs at companies making plastic bags in the area are not in the city, but in the county. So, this shouldn’t make an impact for employees in the L.A area. As for health issues, I recommend washing your reusable bag often so there will not be any issues transporting bacteria’s. I would also recommend possessing a few bags so that you can use them in rotation, and if you drive, make sure to keep a few in your vehicle.

Here are the new rules that will go into affect: Large stores are allowed to phase out plastic bags over six months and then provide free paper bags for another six months. Small retailers will have a year to phase out plastic. After a year, retailers will be allowed to charge 10 cents for paper bags – a disincentive, but smart way to keep consumers away from wanting to use paper bags. City Councilman Paul Koretz, a ban sponsor, said the city would study the issue again in two years to see whether the 10 cent fee was enough to reduce paper bags.

The city ban was modeled on one enacted by Los Angeles County, with a population of 10 million. A state court is hearing an appeal in a lawsuit against the county ban after the plaintiffs, a plastic bag maker among them, lost a lower court ruling.