Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, plastic bags are banned in large grocery stores in the City of Los Angeles. Shoppers will have to bring their own bags, or they have the option to purchase a paper bag for 10 cents. Smaller independent markets and liquor stores that sell groceries have until July 1 before the ban takes effect for those establishments.
According to the LA Times, implementation of the law will take nearly 2 billion plastic carryout bags out of circulation just in Los Angeles. In the state of California, nearly 90 cities and counties – including unincorporated Los Angeles County – have passed similar legislation, however a state-wide ban hasn’t made it through thanks to heavy lobbying by plastic bag manufacturers. Hawaii is the first state to implement a state-wide ban on plastic bags.
In December, a California Court of Appeals upheld San Francisco’s plastic bag ban, after a lawsuit was brought by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which aimed to roll back San Francisco’s ban that includes retail, grocery stores and restaurants as of 2013.
Cities see bag bans as a way to raise money. For example, the City of Aspen (Colorado) has a 20-cent plastic bag fee, and has raised $44,826 in fees since the ban was implemented.
Taking plastic bags out of circulation means eliminating a valuable resource needed to make a number of products such as decking, railing, and other long-lasting, low-maintenance products. With an effective and profitable recycling system in place throughout the country, there’s no reason to ban plastic bags. People just need to care enough to put the bags in the containers so they get into the recycling stream.
Perhaps we should ban people who litter instead!