L.A. City Council puts end to 'paper or plastic' with plastic bags ban at supermarket checkouts

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to ban plastic bags at supermarket checkouts, becoming the largest city in the nation to approve such a law.

The council voted to phase out plastic bags during the next 16 months at an estimated 7,500 stores, meaning shoppers will need to bring reusable bags or purchase paper bags for 10 cents each.

Once the ban takes effect later this year, larger supermarkets will have six months to stop handing out plastic bags and smaller stores will have 12 months, after which all supermarkets will be required to charge for each paper bag they provide.

The decision brought an immediate reaction from the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sector. The group noted that the U.S. plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sector employs more than 30,000 people in 349 communities across the nation 1,900 of whom live in California.

“This week’s actions by the Los Angeles City Council put in motion a process that pushes Los Angeles in the wrong direction by instructing the City Attorney to draft misguided policy that will put jobs at risk and do nothing to improve the environment,” said Mark Daniels, chair of the group.

Daniels pointed out that the council’s actions were not final and do not immediately enact a bag ban.

“There are still significant steps in the process before a plastic bag ban and paper bag tax would go into effect -- among them, city officials must conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and develop the draft language for the ordinance,” he said. “This process will likely take months to complete if not longer, and if at that point the ordinance is approved, there will still be an extended period of time before the ordinance in fully implemented.”

Other California cities that have imposed bans on plastic bags include San Francisco and San Jose in Northern California, and Long Beach and Santa Monica in Southern California.