Plastic bags banned in parts of county

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ban plastic shopping bags at supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies in unincorporated county areas.The ban, which does not affect incorporated cities and municipalities such as Downey, is scheduled to go into effect next July. With the vote, Los Angeles County became the largest municipality in the nation to ban plastic bags. Officials said they expect the ban to trigger similar actions by other local governments throughout the state, including the city of Los Angeles. In a phased rollout beginning next July, plastic carryout bags will no longer be available in supermarkets, large retail pharmacies, liquor stores and food marts in unincorporated county areas, which encompasses some 1 million residents. Shoppers will have the option of purchasing recyclable paper bags at 10 cents per bag. County officials said they enacted the ban "to end the environmental and fiscal waste created by the use of 6 billion single-use plastic shopping bags each year in Los Angeles County alone." "The supervisors' leadership (Tuesday) will spur other local communities to take meaningful action to break our addiction to single-use shopping bags," said Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, which has led legislative efforts to ban plastic bags for more than five years. "The plastics industry knows the writing is on the wall." Mike Antonovich was the only county supervisor to vote against the ban, which passed 3-1 with Supervisor Don Knabe absent. "At a time of economic uncertainty, with a large number of businesses leaving our state and community, this would not be an appropriate time ... to impose this additional regulation," Antonovich said. At the request of then-Councilman Kirk Cartozian, the Downey City Council briefly floated the idea of a plastic bag ban in 2008 but declined further action. At the time, Councilman David Gafin said he "feels a recycling program instead of a prohibition is a better option and would not be opposed to a Green Task Force looking into the issue." Councilman Mario Guerra said he was "unwilling to have staff spend time or money on this item and suggested it be reviewed by a Green Task Force," according to city council minutes. California lawmakers rejected a statewide ban on plastic grocery bags in September. City editor Eric Pierce contributed to this report.

********** Published: November 18, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 31