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Los Angeles Ban on Plastic Bags to Start January 1

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Single-use plastic bags will be banished from most major grocery, drug and convenience stores in the city of Los Angeles under a law that takes effect Wednesday.

Many of Los Angeles County's 88 cities have already phased out the flimsy bags sometimes blamed for choking marine life, but the city of Los Angeles is by far the most populous, with an estimated 228,000 bags distributed per hour.

Absent the availability of plentiful and free single-use carryout grocery bags -- which tend to end up in landfills or as litter in rivers, oceans and beaches -- millions of grocery shoppers will now be faced with shedding their plastic bag habit in favor of bringing reusable bags to supermarkets like Ralphs and Vons; drug stores like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens; and even convenience marts like 7-Eleven.

Stores like Wal-Mart and Target that also sell groceries must stop handing out single-use plastic bags as well.

In other words, the ban's initial rollout will apply to any grocery retailer that makes at least $2 million in gross annual sales or is housed in at least 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Paper bags will cost 10 cents for each. Reusable bags will also be available, either free-of-charge or for sale.

The plastic bag ban and accompanying 10-cent charge for paper bags will expand to smaller, independent shops starting July 1.

Not all plastic bags will be banned. Clear plastic sacks for produce and meat will still be available and free to shoppers. Department stores and other shops that do not carry grocery items are exempt from the ban.

Stores have been reminding customers since November of the impending ban via placards and a public outreach campaign.

Grocery retailers could be fined for each day they violate the ban. They could be fined up to $100 for the first violation, as much as $200 for the second, and up to $500 for the third.

The Los Angeles City Council passed the ban in June, making Los Angeles, with its more than 3.8 million residents, the most populous city in the nation to do so.

The city joins Los Angeles County and a long list of other cities that have already passed bans, including the cities of West Hollywood, Culver City, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica, Glendale and Pasadena.

In 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to adopt a plastic bag ban.

A statewide ban proposed by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, a former Los Angeles councilman, was defeated in May.

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