LA Mayor signs plastic bag ban into law

Los Angeles, CA – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has signed LA’s historic ban on single-use plastic bags into law. The ordinance, approved in an 11-1 vote by the City Council, bars stores that sell perishable food from distributing plastic bags at the checkout. The ban takes effect for large stores in January 2014, while smaller businesses, including convenience stores, have until July 2014 to comply. With LA’s policy in place, one in three Californians now live somewhere with a plastic bag ban.

 “This important step forward for Los Angeles shows once again that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver with Environment California. “Banning plastic bags is the right choice to protect our rivers, beaches, and the Pacific Ocean. With one in three Californians living somewhere with a plastic bag ban, It’s only a matter of time until California bans plastic bags statewide.”

Single-use plastic bags are one of the most common garbage items on California’s beaches according to the Los Angeles Times. They are a direct threat to ocean wildlife, like the sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles have plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, based on a study of over 370 autopsies. Plastic bags make up as much as 25 percent, by weight, of all garbage flowing out to sea on the Los Angeles River according to a 2008 LA County report.

 “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years,” commented Weaver.

Plastic bag bans have enjoyed tremendous success across California. More than 75 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags, including Pasadena, Glendale, Culver City, Long Beach, Calabasas, and unincorporated Los Angeles County. Seven million Californians, joined by 3.8 million in LA, now live in a community that has approved a plastic bag ban.

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Environment California is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.