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Santa Monica approves ban on single-use plastic bags

The Santa Monica City Council has approved a ban on single-use plastic bags.

The council voted 4-0 Tuesday night to approve a ban affecting most retail outlets in the city beginning in September.

Under the ordinance, plastic bags will no longer be available at grocery stores, clothing shops or other retailers. The exception will be restaurants providing food and liquids for takeout. Vendors at the popular Santa Monica Farmers Markets will no longer provide single-use plastic or paper bags.

Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit group, called the action "one of the most aggressive" on single-use bags nationwide.

"Sending a powerful message that the plastic pollution plague can be abated, the vote furthers the recent momentum for enacting local bag measures throughout California," the group said in a statement.

Santa Monica joins other areas in California that have similar bans, including parts of Los Angeles County, Marin County and the city of San Jose. The city of Calabasas will consider a ban on plastic bags Tuesday.

Santa Monica had first planned to hear the item two years ago, but an industry group's threat of a lawsuit prompted the city to conduct an environmental review of the ordinance.

"The Santa Monica Council's leadership today shows that local governments are going to address this critical issue despite threats from industry and state inaction," said Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay. "The plastics industry knows the writing is on the wall."

Shoppers who forget their reusable bags may purchase paper bags at checkout for at least 10 cents each.

Heal the Bay said the measure seeks to end the "environmental and fiscal waste" created by the use of about 26 million single-use plastic shopping bags each year in the city of Santa Monica alone. California municipalities spend nearly $25 million each year to collect and dispose of plastic bag waste, the group said.

Yet fewer than 5% of plastic grocery bags are recycled each year statewide, with others filling space in landfills and harming animal life when the bags wind up in waterways. In offering his support for the measure, Santa Monica Councilman Richard Bloom also noted that many bags float on the breeze, creating hazards for motorists.


L.A. County passes sweeping ban on plastic bags

Will L.A. County's ban on plastic bags do any good?

-- Martha Groves

Comments () | Archives (60)

Welcome to the "Peoples Republic of Santa Monica". More silly, feel-good social engineering. The unintended consequences of this is that all the people that use these plastic bags for their trash will now have to buy plastic trash bags. No net positive effect but it will cost the average shopper more money....


Are you really this dumb or are you playin the fool?


Bravo, Santa Monica City Council! Thank you for protecting our coastlines and beaches, which protects our valuable tourism industry and therefore our jobs.

For anyone who is a little confused what to do without plastic bags, like, apparently, Tom M., you don't actually NEED plastic bags in your trash cans. Compost your food, recycle your recyclables. Otherwise, simply clean them out when they start to smell. And if you can do it using rainwater you have harvested from a rain barrel in your yard, even better.

We keep hearing all these ridiculous horror stories about reusable bags from the plastics industry. I want someone to study the long-term affects plastic that touches our food and beverages has on our health. Like straws, plastic bottles and plasticware. The increasing cancer rate is coming from somewhere and my money is on plastic.

This is a great victory for Santa Monica. The Chemical Association flew in ill-prepared and frankly stupid lobbyists from Texas that tried to tell us what is good for us – plastic! Really? Remember this is the same polluter that spent millions to keep BPA in plastic baby bottles. Enjoy that flight home to your own polluted state. California-1 Texas-0.

Tom, don't forget those who re-use the plastic bags to pick up dog poop. Now we have to buy plastic dog poop bags which is like you said..."no net positive effect" but costing more money. And let's not forget that the 10% sales tax is coming in couple months too.

Now what will I use to clean up my dog's poop when I take Fluffy out for a walk?

Agreed with Tom. And I will add that I will now go out of my way to not shop in Santa Monica. Especially at grocery stores.

Great, further deforestation here we come...

Easy solution: I'll just avoid shopping in Santa Monica...

Tom and Michelle! Really? You can't think beyond your trash can and dog poop? You do know there was a time when plastic bags didn't even exist, don't you? Yet people managed their trash and dog poop anyway.

No net positive? "California municipalities spend nearly $25 million each year to collect and dispose of plastic bag waste, the group said."

I'd be delighted if this causes people who can't imagine life without plastic bags to move out of the area.

Re-using your grocery bags should be a common notion among our society today. However, do you think banning them will really impact for good? I can see a plastics counsel getting upset over this, advocates of the ban waging a war and people not finding bags big enough to fit their groceries. It makes you wonder if it's going to harm the shopping economy- as SanMo is such a big tourist attraction- they may not know to bring their own and cost the city sales and revenue.

I won't be shopping in Santa Monica anymore. Charging for paper bags is ridiculous and unnecessary.

instead of buying plastic bags for dog poo or to line small trash cans, buy plastic bags made from corn or other biodegradable material. Yes they are *a little* more expensive, but at least you know they aren't plastic.

That is fine, i will just just buy double paperbags and then leave them in parking lot for store employees to pick them up

So all that recycling and reusing was/is for naught. No good deed goes unpunished.

Yay! No bring that law out to the valleys! Stop this huge source of pollution.

Tom, Michelle, Really?
This is Los Angeles. I highly doubt that you shop in only one city. How about you use all of the plastic one-use bags from when you shop in Westchester or in La Puente, etc. How about you have your brother/sister save up all of the plastic bags they get when they shop? you see a friend or family member AND reuse/repurpose something that was intended for only one use. You don't need to buy bags and they don't throw those away.
i am tiered of so many seemingly Angry people getting mad at common sense approches to environmental issues. Plastic bags are stuck in my fence right now. I am consccious that the world we live in shouldn't be a dump and by getting some of these one-time-use items out of circulation, we can clean up out personal environments. if the plastic bag mfg industry wants to continue to make money, diversify. That's the American way, too!

how about dog-doo?...no, I didn't mean the Santa Monica City Council, I meant where are the dog owners of Santa Monica going to put their dog feces they pick up on their dog walks?....also, is there going to be trash can inspection to make sure the residents of Santa Monica don't throw away bags they have surreptitiously obtained by shopping in less enlightened communities?(which they will most certainly do!)...Personally, I think there should be huge fines and jail time for anyone who uses or disposes of a plastic bag........We could also set up a system that would allow children to snitch on their parents if they violate this ordinance...The kids could be given rewards, such as tofu and organically grown broccoli.

Are they going to ban plastic bags for newspapers?

I love Santa Monica!

This is ridiculous. We recycle every plastic bag, no matter the condition. We even re-use the plastic bags from the market produce department. We use them to line trash cans, pick up after the dog, clean the cat litter box, etc. By doing this, we don't need to purchase additional trash bags, which seems more environmentally friendly.

Instead of banning the bags, why don't they educate people on recycling them?

The story didn't mention specifically if produce bags are banned. I use canvas bags when i shop for groceries but haven't figured out what to put tomatoes, broccoli, apples etc in. Maybe you are just supposed to put them in the canvas bags in Santa Monica. They are a problem. I do save lots of the big plastic bags but havent quite figured out how to avoid using the 5 or so produce bags each time i shop.

Come on guys, you can just use recycled rain water to clean out your trash can. DUHHHHHH

wow, and i thought that the plastic bag ban was more to help our planet? not just to save us humans money.

Not everyone has a dog, so there is a net gain overall. Seems like a drag at first, admittedly, but we'll get used to it. To learn new things, we must un-learn.

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