Los Angeles Becomes Largest US City to Ban Plastic Bags

Last week the state of Hawaii introduced a state-wide ban on plastic bags, becoming the first US state to do so. In spite of significant loopholes, this is a very brave move as plastic bags cause untold environmental problems.

Now the city of Los Angeles has banned plastic bags becoming the largest US city with a ban. Although it is not the first California city to institute a ban, the inclusion of LA to this list is newsworthy. 

Stores throughout LA will be required to ‘phase out’ plastic bags by the end of the year. Once the  ban ordinance is enacted, larger stores will have six months to stop handing out plastic bags and smaller stores will have up to a year. After this time, all retailers will have to charge 10 cents for each bag that they provide to customers.

The ban will keep a whopping 2.7 billion plastic bags used each year from ending up in the trash. This will significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills as well as environmental pollutants. Plastic bags are not only an environmental hazard but also create havoc by being a major cause of litter as well as by blocking waterways.
Councilman Paul Koretz, a supporter of this ban said,

“This day has been a long time in coming. This is a historic vote making Los Angeles the biggest city in the nation in doing away with an environmental problem.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that the ban comes after many years of campaigning and it is a victory for many environmentalists.

When the ban was introduced in San Francisco in 2007, it did bring initial grumbles from shoppers but now people have gotten used to carrying their own reusable bags for their shopping. The same thing is expected to happen in LA . A similar ban is being talked about for the city of Sacramento.

However there have been grumbles from the chairman of the nonprofit American Progressive Bag Alliance, who said

“With this bag ban, the city chose to take a simplistic approach that takes away consumer choice instead of pursuing meaningful programs that encourage greater recycling of plastic bags and wraps, while preserving jobs.”

While this may be true, banning of plastic bags reduces significant down-the-line problems including the reduction of plastic pollution that causes health problems. A total ban is especially significant because less than five percent of plastic bags are recycled.

Image Credit: Flickr, Newtown grafitti/CC BY 2.0

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net