From Green Right Now Reports
Los Angeles became the largest city in the US to pass a plastic bag ban, when the City Council voted 13 to 1 today to disallow the use of plastic bags in supermarkets.
The ban will be phased in over the next year.
Ban advocates, who’ve argued that plastic bags are clogging pipes and waterways and contributing to ocean debris, were ecstatic.
“The Reusable Bag prevails! L.A. votes to ban plastic bags!” tweeted Heal the Bay, which staged a rally at LA City Hall today.
“Woot! Los Angeles banned the bag!”, tweeted 5 Gyres, a group that’s trying to slow the accumulation of the amazingly large plastic waste gyres developing in ocean vortexes worldwide.
Not everyone tweeted one-liners. Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, whose proposed statewide plastic bag ban failed in the California Assembly last year, issued an entire statement.
“Los Angeles’ bag ban ordinance is a significant step toward eliminating single-use bags around our state. There is no time to waste in reversing the alarming 100-fold increase of plastic in the Pacific Ocean,” she wrote.
“I applaud the City Council for standing up to the plastic bag manufacturers who lobbied hard to defeat this ban and I will continue to work on a statewide ban to make an even larger dent in our plastic bag habit. All Californians benefit from a healthier environment.”
Plastic bags contribute far too much waste compared to their utility, advocates say. They’re used just once or twice, for a brief time, and then discarded, ending up in landfills but too often in streams, rivers, the ocean and your neighbor’s trees.
Plastic Bag Monster, a “creature” and a website that highlights the accumulation of plastic bag waste, reports that on average a typical American shopper uses 500 plastic bags in a year.
The alternative, using reusable totes or canvas bags, remediates this problem. Many believe that even paper bags, though also criticized for having a carbon and water footprint that may outweigh their usefulness, are better because they are degradable. No one really knows for sure how long plastic bags last, but given their chemical structure, many guess they can last for hundreds of years.
Opponents of bag bans have argued that they are bad for American jobs, and that plastic bags can be recycled. Last year, they got attention with a report that reusable bags can pick up germs from groceries. Plastic-ban supporters responded that the best reusable bags are those made of natural fibers that can be washed.
Several celebs joined the rally supporting the ban, including environmental advocate Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Brownley reports that 47 California cities and counties now have plastic bag ban ordinances, though PlasticBagLaws.org reports that the number is really 48, counting the Army post Fort Bragg, which passed a ban earlier this week.