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Los Angeles passes plastic bag ban and taxes paper

The Los Angeles City Council voted to impose a ban on plastic retail bags. The ordinance put in motion by the city council includes a ban on plastic retail bags and a $.10 tax on shoppers for paper bags.

Californians generate more than 14 billion plastic bags annually, less than 5 percent of which are recycled.

To date, 48 California cities and counties have adopted ordinances banning single-use plastic bags, which are targeted for their contribution to litter, costly disposal and threat to the environment.

Analyses by City staff and others have determined that single use bags cost Los Angeles consumers and taxpayers more than $75 million annually in higher grocery costs and pollution clean-up costs. Plastic bags have been found to be one of the largest and costliest contributors to litter and pollution in the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek. Under the Clean Water Act, city tax/rate payers have been forced to spend an estimated $10 million annually to clean up and keep plastic bags out of these impaired water bodies.

California has learned a lesson with regard to efforts to recycle plastic bags returned to grocery stores for recycling. The last assessment by CalRecycle places the statewide recycling rate for plastic bags at 3 percent, or just about 1,500 tons of plastic bags diverted from landfill through recycling.

By comparison, the local effort in Los Angeles (City and County), and the 47 other jurisdictions that have voted to phase out single use plastic bags, will eliminate nearly 17,000 tons of plastic bags from the litter and waste stream.