Los Angeles May Ban Plastic Shopping Bags

23 07 2008

Usually, I would say I hate anything to do with California, but finally there’s a story from the west coast that doesn’t involve a sex tape and actually makes sense.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban plastic carryout bags in the city’s supermarkets and stores by July 2010 — but only if the state fails to impose a 25-cent fee on every shopper who requests them.“This is a major moment for our city, to bite the bullet and go with something that is more ecologically sensitive than what we’ve ever done before,” said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents such coastal neighborhoods as Venice and Playa del Rey.

Council members said they hope an impending ban would spur consumers to begin carrying canvas or other reusable bags, reducing the amount of plastic that washes into the city’s storm drains and the ocean.

 

So, it’s not a ban yet, but it could be.  Even the $.25 tax on plastic shopping bags is a good idea.  We’ve got four reusable bags hanging by our door right now and I always feel bad when we go to Horrock’s and forget to grab them.  It happens more than I’d like, but at least at Horrock’s they have the option for paper.

It’s hard to imagine that there would be opposition, but of course, there is.

The plastic bag ban was hailed by environmental groups, including Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation. Opponents warned the policy will have a devastating effect on the region’s packaging companies.

“When we start banning things and closing factories, where are the blue-collar workers going to go?” asked Anatolio Riegos, a Highland Park resident who works for Pactiv, a packaging company in the city of Industry that has roughly 1,300 workers.

Should we also have banned asbestos?  There were people working in plants that manufactured that.  I understand jobs are scarce…trust me, I get that.  I’m technically unemployed right now, but I can’t see continuing to manufacture something that does so much harm.  I’ve never been considered a hippie…really, I’m pretty conservative, so it’s not like I’m an environment wacko.  Most of the time, I would side with industry, but this industry is just so wasteful.  California already has a plastic bag return law, but according to this L.A. Times article, only 5% of the plastic shopping bags are recycled.  Now compare that with Michigan’s bottle return law were 97% of bottles and cans are returned.  California’s law doesn’t require a deposit so there is a difference, but 5% is still pretty pathetic when you consider there are 2.3 billion plastic bags used each year just in the City of Los Angeles.

Good step by L.A. and hopefully this is something that can catch on nationwide.

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