Los Angeles became the largest city in the country to do away with plastic bags in supermarkets after the city council passed a ban on them May 23. The council passed the restriction by a 13–1 vote.
The ban will be phased in over a 12-month period, and will impact an estimated 7,500 stores, according to the L.A. Times. Council members, as well as supportive environmental groups and advocates, praised the measure.
“This is a great day for the city of Los Angeles,” said Adrian Martinez of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in a blog posting. “The environmental and economic problems with these bags far outweigh any limited benefit they may have,” he added.
Martinez expounded on the problems in a May 22 NRDC blog posting, leading up to yesterday’s council vote. “The Los Angeles Department of Public Works reports that only 5 percent of the 2.3 billion plastic bags used each year in the city of Los Angeles are recycled,” he wrote, pointing to additional risks to wildlife, and “the high cost of removing these bags from our land and waterways.”
According to Martinez, 43 municipalities in the state had already adopted ordinances restricting single-use plastic grocery bags.
Some want to see the ban expanded. “Let’s get the message to Sacramento that it’s time to go statewide,” said Councilman Ed Reyes, according to the L.A. Times report.
A spokesperson representing plastic bag manufacturers decried the city’s ban.
“By voting to ban plastic shopping bags, the city of Los Angeles put in motion a misguided and onerous policy that threatens the jobs of hundreds of Angelenos employed by the industry, and nearly 2,000 statewide, while pushing residents to less environmentally friendly reusable bags, which are produced overseas and cannot be recycled,” said Mark Daniels, chair of the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), in a press release statement Wednesday.
The APBA was “founded in 2005 to represent the United States’ plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sector, employing 30,800 workers in 349 communities across the nation,” according to its statement.
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