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Long Beach plastic-bag ban to take effect in August

July 22, 2011 | 11:37 am

plastic bag ban
The first phase of a plastic-bag ban in Long Beach will go into effect Aug. 1, despite concerns from city officials that stores aren't prepared for the change.

Officials initially proposed delaying the start of the ban -- which applies to large retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart that sell food and perishable items -- to make sure the stores had enough time to make the switch, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.

That proposal was dropped Tuesday after City Council members learned the stores were ready to go.

"We considered the delay after hearing some concerns from residents and businesses, but when we talked with [affected] retailers, like a Target or a Trader Joe's, they say they're ready to go," said Councilman Gary DeLong, one of three council members who had proposed delaying the restrictions.

The Long Beach City Council voted to ban plastic bags and enact a 10-cent-a-bag charge for recyclable paper bags in May 2011.

The first phase -– the portion going into effect Aug. 1-– applies to large retailers.

The second phase, which extends the ordinance to smaller stores -- such as neighborhood markets, pharmacies, sandwich and coffee shops and liquor stores -– will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

City officials said they hoped the ban will inspire other Southern California cities to enact similar ordinances.

"Long Beach is ground zero for plastic bag pollution in Southern California. What starts out as litter on the street 40 miles away from Long Beach becomes marine debris half buried on our beaches or floating in a few feet of water off our shores," Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal said in a statement Wednesday.

Cities including San Francisco, Malibu and Santa Monica have adopted similar bans.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted in November 2010 to ban plastic grocery bags in unincorporated areas of the county.

Last week, the California Supreme Court upheld the right of cities to ban plastic bags, saying a full-scale environmental review may not always be needed to prevent stores from giving bags to customers.

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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Ralphs employee Miguel Andelon bags groceries last year in reusable bags in Malibu. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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