Los Angeles is now the largest U.S. city to ban plastic bags

Rite aid plastic bag

Following a 13 to 1 vote in the Los Angeles City Council yesterday, the city will become the largest United States metropolis to enact a ban on plastic bags and add a 10 cent fee for each paper bag sold. Under the measure, the ban will undergo a four-month environmental study and then a final vote and signature from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to help curb large carbon footprints.

The ban is set to go into effect July 1, with the estimated number of 2.7 billion plastic bags saved annually from being thrown out. Large and small stores alike will have 12 months to phase out the use of plastic bags with the exemption of plastic bags used in the produce department of supermarkets. Plastic garbage bags for trash bins and dog waste will still be legal.

“This day has been a long time in coming,” says councilman Paul Koretz. “This is a historic vote making Los Angeles the biggest city in the nation in doing away with an environmental problem.”

Los Angeles joins San Francisco, San Jose, and Long Beach as California cities that have enacted a ban on plastic bags. Seattle City County also passed the same ban last December with the same tentative date of July 1 for the rules to go into regulation. Of course, this is nothing compared to Hawaii, which announced last week that it will be the first state to entirely ban plastic bags by July 2015.

The lone vote against the Los Angeles plastic bag ban comes from Councilman Bernard Parks who worried about food safety with using paper bags if consumers forget to bring their own reusable tote.

“What concerns me also is a few years ago we told people to stop using paper bags so we could save the trees,” Parks said. “And the plastics industry came in with their bags. Now we’re telling people not to use plastic bags. What I wonder is, if we are trading environmental problems for health problems.”

Koretz argues that the “red herring” would be the only food that could get contaminated, and there are exceptions to keeping food safe as one would still place produce in thin plastic bags. He hopes the move will encourage other major cities to follow suit in a fight for environmental awareness.

Image Credit: Flickr / katerha