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Plastic shopping bag ban begins in Santa Monica [Updated]

The city of Santa Monica's ban on plastic shopping bags took effect Wednesday with supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor stores and pharmacies barred from handing out single-use plastic bags.

A six-month grace period will be in place before enforcement kicks in, with fines starting at $75 per infraction. Criminal prosecution is possible for repeat offenders.

Recyclable paper bags will still be available in stores for 10 cents apiece.

[Updated at 9:39 a.m.: Other types of stores, such as department, clothing and hardware, do not have to charge for their bags, but they are restricted in the types of plastic bags they can hand out, said Josephine Miller, an environmental analyst for the city.]

The city's ban follows similar initiatives in other upscale communities, including Malibu and San Francisco.

But the seaside town, known as a green mecca, is actually far behind other, less glittery locales with bag bans of several years' standing, including Bangladesh (2002), Kangaroo Valley, Australia (2003), and Corsica (1999), according to the city's website.

The Ralphs grocery store in Santa Monica expects little resistance to the ban. Assistant manager June Kim said 30% to 40% of their customers already bring their own reuseable totes to shop.

It could be a bit tough for customers who arrive on foot from nearby apartment complexes, he conceded. In another bid to reduce waste the stores' paper bags have no handles, Kim said. 

"I'm sure people will be a little irritated," he said. "But we've heard a lot of positive comments. I think it will be OK."


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Comments () | Archives (39)

Thank you tree huggers for raising my grocery bill.

10.25 percent sales tax.
No plastics - need to pay more for it.
Ridiculous traffic and gas prices.
Cost of living - just shoots up 100%

I am staying out of Santa Monica.

The list of reasons to avoid Santa Monica keeps on getting longer.

@Insurrextion: Oh please, it's not rocket science: just start carrying a few canvas bags around that you can throw into the washing machine occasionally. Your bill will only go up if you insist on buying the polluting bags.

Shoppers in Europe have been using canvas bags for decades; surely you are at least as smart as they are?

Well, there is a Ralph's store a little further down Olympic, and there is one in Marina Del Rey. I hope its worth it, because that's where my sales tax money is going.

@Insurrextion: bring your own bags and your bill won't change.

Insurrextion, I suggest you educate yourself. Your minor inconveniences are not justification for destroying the planet with wasteful, useless materials which pollute the oceans and take thousands of years to decompose. Bring your own bag and stop complaining.


Raising your grocery bill? This is an expense the corporation doesn't have to absorb. You are a typical low information irrational Teabaggerthuglicanconservatard. Think before blogging incoherent.

I've always asked for paper bags at checkout and got them for free. Now I have to pay $.10 for the same bags. Thanks for nickel n' diming me. What next? Charging me for the shopping cart because they keep finding them abandoned in the storm drains?

Why they are worrying about plastic bags, millions fish die in their harbor. Glad they sweat the small stuff.

LONDON (March 2, 1:50 p.m. ET) -- The British Environment Agency has released a report that says single-use polyethylene grocery bags have a lower carbon footprint than alternative paper or reusable bags.

The report was released this week after a Feb. 20 newspaper report claimed the government was suppressing its conclusions. The Environment Agency claimed the report was still being peer-reviewed.

As expected, the report concluded that lightweight high density PE bags have a lower impact on global warming than alternative bags unless the alternatives are reused multiple times.

“Lightweight single-use carrier bags have the lowest carbon footprint per bag based primarily on resource use and production,” the agency said. “Paper, heavyweight plastic and cotton bags all use more resources and energy in their production. A key issue, however, is how many times bags are reused.”

In order to equal an HDPE bag used just once, the report states that:

• A paper bag would need to be reused three times;

• A low density PE “bag-for-life” would need to be reused four times;

• A non-woven polypropylene bag would need to be reused 11 times;

• A cotton bag would need to be reused 131 times.

If the HDPE bag is reused once, as a trash bag, the numbers increase: the paper bag would need to be reused seven times; the LDPE bag nine times; the PP bag 26 times and the cotton bag 327 times.

The report, “Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags,” was requested by the previous United Kingdom government. It was part of a study on how to reduce the environmental impact of retail and food packaging.

In Arizona the groceries still provide paper or plastic bags without extra charge. Some cities near Phoenix Arizona provide recycle bin but don't recycle the plastic bags or some don't provide the recycle bin at all.

Whoever wants to move out of SM because of this rule can consider to move to one of those cities.

To the complainers who are also parents, if we don't do this, very soon our children will have to live near the waste dumpsters.

Thank you, to all haters, for staying out of Santa Monica.


There are several brands of great lightweight bags that stuff into their own pouch and clip onto your belt or purse. Chico Bags, is one - Made in America!

SM Native,

I have the same issue. Stores begin using cheaper plastic bags, they get banned, and suddenly we're paying to extra cost to go back to the same bag they used before. Socal, the home of less service and higher costs...taxes go to politicians, and school children and parents raise money for PUBLIC SCHOOL to compensate for the this welfare state and greedy politicians...endless examples of corruption and greed.

Good for the environment, stores make extra money, politicians take a little in their pocket...good for everybody, right?

Oh, and don't worry, there will always be something extra they can charge for...cashier and bagger convenience fees are next.

The newest plastic bags degrade faster than brown paper bags. Not to mention the fact that many of us recycle them and use them as wastecan liners. Now, we will merely have to buy liners from Glad & Hefty.

You haven't saved the planet. You've only made those corporations richer. They are laughing at you right now.

Well, having been in school in Europe, they've pretty well have a univeral pay-for-bag policy. Cheapo plastic bags with handles are 25c, and canvas reusable ones usually for 1€

You just get used to having a bag scrunched up in a pocket, or just bringing a few with you when you go to the store. Definitely, worth it, and there isn't nearly as much bag waste as back home where I know I would have that drawer of pastic bags that just go to the garbage when I eventually throw them out.

I always use the store plastic bags to collet and throw out my garbage. Now that I won't have anymore free plastic bags, I have to spend MORE money to buy plastic bags(like Hefty) for my garbage cans. Thanks alot tree huggers. Tree huggers must be rich people.

I like taking my own bags. I love collecting fun bags from different places like Trader Joe's Hawaiin ones.

Improving recycyling programs may be a logical first step, ya think? No, let's just ban plastic grocery bags and let the bums do all of the recycling.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I'm handicapped and can't get stuff into the house without the bag having a handle so I can use my cane with it. These laws just aren't properly thought out.

Well, I guess the city is getting bad. Why and how are we going to carry most of our food. Or big things like Blankets, Sheets. The bags that you want us to use do nt last very long. And most of the time we have to wash our carrying bags cause they get dirty with fruits and other stuff. You should ban all the people that come from outside Santa Monica, they are the ones that throw their bags around we who live here so not do that. This is very wrong.

Oh yay..... more rules and regulations to stifle business brought to us by The Peoples Republic of Santa Monica. People have no idea just how much of a smoke screen the whole green movement is to the group running that city.

The whole country of South Africa passed this in 2002 or 2003. They are all doing just fine with it! Even their effort lagged behind European efforts.

Congratulations are still in order for Santa Monica. Let's get the rest of the country on board.

I previously was a resident in Santa Monica for a good 10+ years and moved away when the Third Street Mall was constructed. Thank God! Thas when the city went to hell in a hand-basket. Clogged streets, no parking, transients became worse, and crime increased. Once this was a sleepy town for older, retired people. Now it looks like Yuppie Heaven or Hollywood Pimping Grounds. Green Mecca my Leaf! How about cleaning up the plastic bags that still reside in Santa Monica Bay wayyyyyyyyyyyy down below the blue ocean! Santa Monica has just got to be fashionable like a want-to-be Malibu. Geesh, city govt never even took care of the homeless that would piss at the front doors of business' including bank entrances but a plastic bag ban is so chic! Glad I moved away ........

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