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L.A. County poised to pass strict ban on plastic grocery bags [Updated]

Bags Los Angeles County supervisors were poised Tuesday to impose one of the most stringent bans on disposable grocery bags in the country.

The proposal calls for a ban on plastic grocery bags and a 10-cents-per-paper-bag surcharge in unincorporated areas of the county -- areas not governed by a city council -- which cover a population of nearly 1.1 million people.

The ban would be the most restrictive in California and nationwide, said Mark Gold, president of the environmental group Heal the Bay.

San Francisco's ban is less restrictive because it does not ban bioplastic bags made from corn starch, which do not biodegrade in the ocean, and Malibu's ban does not levy a surcharge on paper bags, Gold said.

[Updated at 11:50 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed Gold's statements to Matthew King, a spokesman for Heal the Bay.]

In contrast, the proposed L.A. County ordinance seeks to end consumers' reliance on disposable bags, either plastic or paper, and move them toward using reusable bags to carry out their groceries.

In advance of the vote, dozens of environmentalists gathered Tuesday in front of the Hall of Administration to rally in support of the ban, cognizant of strong opposition from the plastic-bag manufacturers' lobbying arm and the American Chemistry Council. At least 60 people were at the supervisors' meeting to speak on the topic.

The Legislature had been expected to implement a statewide ban on plastic grocery bags, but the measure failed to pass the state Senate in the final hours of the legislative session at the end of August, amid intense lobbying by the plastic-bag industry.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the county would have preferred a statewide ban, but is now moving forward on its own.

"These bags end up in our storm drains. They then end up in our oceans. Marine life get caught up in these bags. ... They eat it. It damages marine life," Yaroslavsky said. "It puts our great natural resource, and economic resource, called our coastline and marine life at great risk."

Government figures show that just 5% of plastic bags are recycled.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the proposed ordinance would be a model for the 88 city councils in L.A. County to adopt, as well as provide a template to push Sacramento to impose a statewide ban.

"We will get this passed statewide," Ridley-Thomas said. "Don’t you dare give up. We've done too much to turn around now."

UPDATE: County passes sweeping ban on plastic grocery bags


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-- Rong-Gong Lin II at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration

Photo: James Alamillo, left, and Amada Griesbach, both from Heal the Bay, walk down Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles for a rally outside the Hall of Administration in support of a ban on plastic bags. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (37)

Guess I'll be shopping in Orange County now.

Another government boondogle waiting to be thrust upon the people. Of course, this past election continues to show that LA is going in the wrong direction. I hope these county superidiots are setting aside funds for seniors and disabled people to pay for the paper bags.

hooray for L.A. and Hollywood.

I will just get paper bag and litter the streets. I hope the city enjoys paying extra money for employees to clean it up.

How's that going to work with prop 26 specifically requiring that such fees be put to a vote? Is surcharge the new word that we must define as a tax word?

Hey, Los Angeles County supervisors, why don't you pick on people who can defend themselves (like incorporated cities)? Because you will know you can't win against those (incorporated) cities?

Hooray!! The Earth is saved! You're welcome, future grandkids. I guess I need to start stocking up on cargo pants. Are they going to overturn the pick-up-your-dog-poop law at the same time, since that's probably what 85% of the "non recycled" plastic bags are used for?

Awesome! I love LA!

I live 3 miles from Orange County line. I will do my shopping there for now. They are also charge less of the sales tax.

Here we go again.... i would like to think the the City Council has other pressing issues that need to be tended too and not something like this. OK supermarkets... lets' use those boxes that are always crushed and tossed out. Thus we will not have to worry about the 10 cents per bag fee.... LOL. Another loophole proned decision by a bunch of SSMUCKS in the city.

cool I will buy less stuff at the market. So i don't have to purchase a plastic bag that will kill some birds

Why is the consumer and taxpayer always the one's to share the blunt of environmentalists? Your going to add a surcharge to use paper bags or reusable bags which have been found to contain lead, how ironic is that? You need to start with the manufacturer and put them out of business along with a few hundred jobs. Everything comes in plastic these days. Let's follow the money trail on this one and see where it ends up. Let's see, they want you to use paper bags or reuseable bags? Mark Rigley Thomas is one of the biggest crooks around, remember the office make over caper? You decide, fair and balanced. Wake up L.A. County, your getting ready to be duped.

So, we're left with using surcharged paper bags, or using--that is, purchasing (and making sure we remember, every time we shop, that the bags are in the car, not still in the kitchen)--reusable bags that breed bacteria or contain lead, according to recent headlines. Come on! I would think even the people who continually vote these liberal lawmakers into office won't appreciate their grocery-shopping experience to fundamentally change in--what?--five weeks. Un-happy new year, shoppers.

Those "disposable" plastic bags cut into our hands when you carry them and break very easily. The reusable bags are MUCH easier to use and carry and hold much more. Buh-bye, bags-in-the-trees.

Awesome. I love it.

Reusable bags are the right thing to do. All you mindless shoppers out there who are against a ban on plastic bags should try visiting your local dump someday. Take a boat out past the breakers at any California beach. Look around your community. The NUMBER ONE form of trash is plastic grocery bags. They are a testament to consumer and corporate ignorance. As as for bad-mouthing government, I'm no fan of government, but when people continually refuse to do something smart, maybe our govt needs to make them.

I'll bring my plastic bags.

This idea is so ignorant.

1-Plastic bags have so many secondary uses. Not one plastic bag is thrown out at my home, every one is recycled. They become trash bags, packing materials in shipping my products, and if I had pets they are vital for picking up after them. Now I will just BUY the plastic bags.

2-Paper bags use more resources than plastic bags to produce.

3- Reusable bags are health hazards! Some have LEAD in them. Studies show that are the breeding ground of e-coli and listeria. Even if you bleach yours, bags that have been placed on the grocery check out counter before yours have been shown to have FECES on them that infect YOUR groceries. Pretty appetizing.

These fools are out of touch, are paid too much, and need to have real world worries.

Opponents of this proposal should put a plastic bag over their head.

And here come the crybabies. Woe is you, you may have to use a cotton bag. Life is so hard.

Don't know much about Mark Ridley-Thomas, but at this point, what I do know I like... a lot. Thank you for all your work on this issue. It is greatly appreciated!

It's amazing to me that almost all these nay-sayers have no clue that this was a move by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which govern only the UNINCORPORATED parts of the county.

It doesn't apply to the City of Los Angeles nor to any of the other 80+ incorporated cities in this county.

As a seagull owner, I can tell you first-hand the damage these plastic bags cause. I used to let my bird play with these plastic bags in the living room, but I learned the hard way how dangerous these bags were when his head would get tangled in the handles, causing him to flap and poop uncontrollably. Luckily, I was there to help Milo. Just think of all the birds who aren't as lucky as my Milo, who don't have an owner and someone to detangle them. Kudos to LA for tackling this issue. Bird owners accross the nation are flapping their wings in delight!

Oh good, in case the higher sales tax wasn't enough, now there's just one more reason not to shop in LA County anymore. Ventura County here I come!

Why stop at grocery stores? Virtually every store uses some kind of bag, mostly plastic, for shoppers to haul their purchases home. It's not just grocery shoppers that litter and don't dispose or reuse/recycle bags properly. And what about all the other wrapping on purchases that are just as damaging to the environment. Focus on one type of store and one type of bag is useless, educate people to not trash their environment rather than create more regulation and oversight.

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