Los Angeles Officially Bans Plastic Bags

Plastic bag ban rally at City Hall in L.A. / Photo by Heal the Bay/Flickr/Creative Commons License

It's finally official. Single-use plastic bags will be banned in Los Angeles.

Customers will be required to provide their own reusable bags when they visit stores, or pay 10 cents each for paper bags. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the ordinance into law today, making Los Angeles the most populous city in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags. The ban will take effect on January 1, 2014 for large stores (that gross more than $2 million a year or are housed in more than 10,000 square feet) and six months later for small stores.

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The ban will also include liquor stores and independent markets that carry limited groceries but have staples such as milk and bread.

To help ease the transition, the city plans to hand out about one million reusable bags in low-income areas, and women who get food benefits through the federal Women, Infants, and Children program will be exempted from the ban.

Proceeds from the 10-cent charge will be kept by stores and used only to recoup the cost of the bags. Stores will be required to file quarterly reports on this process.

Los Angeles currently spends about $2 million a year to clean up plastic bag litter. Activists say the plastic bag ban will lead to cleaner beaches, storm drains, rivers, and other public spaces that tend to become the final resting places for the non-biodegradable bags.

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