L.A. cities, such as Santa Monica, have recently banned the distribution of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores. The city of Los Angeles is now going a step further and is proposing a ban on all single use bags including paper bags.
The new ban on paper bags has been proposed by councilman Paul Koretz who sees paper bags as a continued environmental problem. Plastic bags are among the top pollutants that end up in the ocean. But paper bags also cause a threat to the environment because they require high energy input to produce them. The Bureau of Sanitation has reported that out of 2.3 billion plastic bags used each year in cities, only 5% are recycled while out of 400 million paper bags, only 21% are recycled.
Under the L.A. proposal, stores will only be permitted to distribute reusable bags or risk a fine. The only exemption will be small plastic bags used to separate certain produce such as raw vegetables.
A ban on all single-use bags benefits grocery stores as well as the environment. Councilman Koretz points out that grocery stores will save a lot of money as they will no longer have to provide single-use bags for consumers.
Environmentalists hope that a continued movement of local bans on single-use bags will influence law makers to enact a statewide ban. Retailers have had past complaints about the inconsistency of city-by-city rules and also support a statewide ban. A state wide ban will provide a standard set of guidelines that will make it easier and more consistent for retailers to follow.
The California Grocers Association supported a bill for a statewide ban last year but the bill died in legislature as it faced opposition from the American Chemistry Council- lobbyists for the plastic bag industry. This year, with the growing support of environmentalists, retailers, and consumers for the ban of all single-use bags, a new bill proposing a statewide ban seems hopeful.