LA Bans Plastic Bags


Mayor.Signing.Plastic.Bag.Ban.Leslie.TamminenOn June 25, the Los Angeles City Council made history and made Los Angeles the largest municipality in the United States to ban single-use plastic bags.  Two days later, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the plastic bag ban ordinance into law. “This will make for a cleaner, greener LA,” Mayor Villaraigosa stated. “Every year we use two billion bags and only five percent of them are recycled. This is one more step to make LA the cleanest, greenest city in the United States.”  

The ordinance, championed by LA Sanitation and environmental groups alike, has been in the works for years. It will go into effect in early 2014 with larger stores needing to comply by January 1 and smaller stores required to enforce the ban by July 1. It prohibits stores that sell perishable goods from giving customers single-use plastic bags in which to carry their purchases. Beginning in 2014, patrons will have to bring their own reusable bags or be charged a 10-cent fee for each paper bag requested.

Empty plastic bags account for much of the pollution found in our local rivers, creeks, lakes and beaches with Californians using a staggering 14 million single-use bags annually. LA Sanitation estimates that $2 million a year is spent cleaning up the pollution caused by plastic bags. If you have participated in a Los Angeles River Clean Up event in the last decade, then you’ve seen them – tangled in bushes, floating in the water. During the discussion period of the LA City Council meeting, Councilman Mitch Englander compared bags to un-tethered kites, “They end up in trees. They end up in birds’ nests. They cause havoc to society.” Englander’s colleagues on the LA City Council echoed his feelings about the problems caused by plastic bags. Councilman Paul Krekorian talked about marine life starving to death after ingesting bags while Councilman Jose Huizar stated, “We’re going to send a message to the rest of the country and possibly the world that we are changing our ways.”

With the adoption of this ordinance, one in three Californians will be covered by laws regulating plastic and paper bags beginning in 2014. While a plan to ban single-use plastic bags statewide was rejected in May by the legislature, the state senator who proposed it, Alex Padilla, is optimistic that one day California will pass a law restricting the use of plastic bags. “Every month that goes by, there’s another jurisdiction that is adopting restrictions on plastic bags. Clearly, this is a direction the state wants to move in.”

Photos courtesy of nick_blick, Leslie Tamminen and stir wise.


Comments (14)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Gabriela Sosa
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    So happy & proud. Thank you.
    Now to plant more trees!

  2. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Saran Kirschbaum
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Fantastic, thinking of the future while protecting the present. Our ocean and marine life will get a reprieve from certain death.

  3. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Bernardo Beradino
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Great move. And yes, as Ms. Sosa says, let’s plant more and more and more trees.

    Meanwhile, though, why are Korean merchants and others still dispensing plastic bags?

  4. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Daisy Anderson
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I like the plastic bags, I reuse them for trash, dog poop pick up at the shelter and to reuse to carry dirty or wet things. What I don’t like about the bags is that people don’t reuse and throw them on the ground. Everyday plastic bags are flying down the ally next to my house, I see them flying in the air like balloons while driving, getting stuck on peoples cars. I have been using reusable bags for years now and I am glad they are banning the plastic. People messed this up, now they might as well live with it.

  5. Bette Biers
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I think the stores will recognize a substantial profit. Other business’ will prop up selling bio-green bags at a greatly reduced price. Hence, a win-win situation.

    Cloth bags will increase the insect population and then our pest control business will expand. Another win-win situation.

  6. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    August 1st, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    It will be a good thing. Everyone should have enough cloth bags by now!

  7. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Mike Williams
    August 1st, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    As someone who is regularly involved in beach clean-ups, I can say the most prevalent items I find on the beach are fast food containers. They are everywhere… take a look down your own streets and you’ll see what I mean.

    These are the items that NEED to be banned!

  8. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Kathy Carneiro
    August 1st, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    As a shopper that has used my own recycled bags as often as possible,I think this ban goes way too far.
    And why do the markets get 10cents for a paper bag when they should be given out for free? Why are they making a profit in this case? I will never pay even 10 cents for a bag. I will either not shop at that store or will hand carry out. This money should be going to some needy city services like childrens/seniors services or the homeless.

  9. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    August 1st, 2013 at 5:45 pm


  10. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    christine Harris
    August 1st, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Long overdue.
    My relatives in Europe are shocked every time they come here and see how we bag everything.
    I have to fight at the store not to have them bag my bags….

  11. Kris Franklin
    August 1st, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I use plastic bags all the time for my trash. Paper bags aren’t biodegradable so why are you keeping those? You can’t recycle paper bags or platic with trash in them. Someone needs to invent biodegradable bags. I like them for my trash. It wouldn’t hurt for stupid people to pick up there trash. We wouldn’t have this problem. It’s not the bags, it’s people who don’t take their trash with them or can’t seem to pick it up. This won’t change the idiots that don’t care to pick up their own trash. They have to learn that first. Good luck.

  12. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    kathryn ridgley
    August 2nd, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Fantastic! hopefully there will be educational information made available to the general public so it’s understood why this ban is so IMPORTANT. Good for you folks!

  13. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    August 3rd, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Great news! I hope the California makes it state-wide!

  14. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    August 6th, 2013 at 11:18 am

    FANTASTIC>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>L.A. should make precedent to all other large cities to follow

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