Los Angeles is now the largest city in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags. Under the ordinance finalized on the vote today, the city took a phased–in approach for curbing the environmental and fiscal waste associated with the distribution, collection and disposal of single-use bags.
With today’s historic vote, one in four Californians now live in a city that has enacted curbs against single-use bags. Seventy-six state municipalities are covered by ordinances banning plastic single-use bags and most also deter paper single-use bags. Dozens more are considering banning plastic bags in the near future.
The ordinance goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, for large stores, and July 1, 2014, for smaller stores, thereby allowing the city’s 4 million residents to gradually transition into the practice of bringing reusable shopping bags to local retailers. These effective dates will also allow retailers to get rid of their inventory and prepare for compliance with the ordinance.
Nearly 2 billion single-use plastic bags and 400 million paper bags are distributed annually in the Los Angeles, according to city officials.
Environmental group Heal the Bay has led the legislative fight to enact a bag ban for more than six years as part of its ongoing efforts to tackle plastic pollution throughout Southern California.
”Today, our city became a model for our state and the rest of the nation,” said Kirsten James, Heal the Bay’s Science and Policy Director for water quality. “The vote further emphasizes that the time has come for us to move past the wasteful convenience of a plastic bag to sustainable reusable bags.”
"The community support behind this effort has been remarkable,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, one of the lead architects of the measure. “Over 25 neighborhood councils, the L.A. Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) have joined with Heal the Bay, the entire Clean Seas Coalition and environmental justice groups like Pacoima Beautiful in calling for a ban. Best of all, we're creating good green jobs for worthy L.A.-based reusable bag makers like Green Vets LA and Homeboy Industries. It’s a win-win-win.”
“We’ve seen plastic bags clogging our gutters, polluting our rivers and piling up on our beaches,” said Councilmember José Huizar, a key legislative proponent of the ban. “The time for the City of Los Angeles to take action to protect our environment is now. And every big city in the nation can follow our lead.”
California municipalities spend nearly $25 million each year just to collect and dispose of plastic bag waste. Less than 5% of plastic grocery bags are recycled each year statewide.
Over the years, Heal the Bay has given away 100,000 reusable bags as part of an ongoing outreach effort to get Angelenos to forgo their plastic bags in favor of reusable ones. The council’s vote addresses both paper and plastic to drive greater use of reusable bags. The production of paper bags depletes our forests and natural resources, emits greenhouse gasses, and pollutes our water with toxic chemicals used in the pulp and paper making process.
Heavy-duty reusable bags are convenient, environmentally friendly alternatives that have been embraced by hundreds of millions of consumers around the world.
About Heal the Bay
Heal the Bay is a non-profit environmental organization making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and clean. We use science, education, community action and advocacy to pursue our mission.
Contact:Matthew King, Heal the Bay, (310) 451-1500, x137 or (310) 463-6266 cell