Long Beach, CA, the second largest city in L A County, decided in a 6-2 vote by the City Council to ban single-use carry-out plastic bags. The ordinance means that retailers cannot give out plastic bags to customers for their purchases.
Acccording to Suja Lowenthal, Vice Mayor, the city has been studying the issue for three years. The city has been promoting recycling but has determined that the recycling effort is not working. While only 1% of the waste stream, plastic bags are 25% of the county's litter.
The ordinance will force retailers to charge customers 10 cents for a bag if they don't have their own reusable bag. The fee amount was determined by surveying retailers and 10 cents is about the cost of a paper bag to the retailer.
When asked why charge a fee instead of encouraging biodegradable bags or compostable bags, Ms. Lowenthal gave three reasons why the idea wouldn't work:
1. This is simply replacing one litter source with another
2. There are no composting facilities in L A County to properly dispose of the bags
3. Including the bags in recycling material would contaminate untold batches of good recyclable material
Studies have shown that consumers are already paying a hidden fee of about $50 per year by supermarkets increasing the cost of their goods to pay for the bags.
The ordinance is set to take effect on August 1, 2011. The ordinance was modeled after L A County's recently passed ban which was modeled after AB1998, the statewide bill that was voted down in late August.
Photo: Courtesy: D. Ramey Logan. Used under Creative Commons License. Click to view license