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City Council to consider banning single-use plastic bags

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"Thank You" plastic bags.

“Thank You” plastic bags.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote today on whether to ban single-use plastic bags.

The council’s Energy and Environment Committee Monday approved the language and environmental findings of the proposed law, which was first introduced in 2011 by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian.

Stores that sell perishable food products would be prohibited from handing out plastic grocery bags, and fines would be imposed for violating the ban. The proposed law also calls for a 10-cent charge on paper bag use and regulations on the types of reusable bags which stores can make available to their customers.

The county of Los Angeles and some cities in California, such as San Francisco and Santa Monica, already have plastic bag bans in place.

The proposed Los Angeles law’s consistency with the county’s ban, Koretz said, would “make this an effective regional ban and be a step in the right direction for the environment.”

The ban would take effect on Jan. 1, for large stores that make more than $2 million a year or are housed in retail space covering more than 10,000 square feet; and on July 1, 2014, for smaller stores that carry a limited selection of grocery products such as milk, bread, soda and snack foods, as well as those with beer, wine and hard liquor licenses.

The law would require stores to charge 10 cents for each recyclable paper bag. The money would be kept by the store and used only to recoup the costs of the bags and comply with the city ban, as well as on educational materials to promote reusable bag use.

Stores would need to file quarterly reports on the number of paper bags given out, how much money the store receives for those bags and their efforts to encourage use of reusable bags.

Proponents say the ban would lead to cleaner beaches, storm drains, rivers and other public spaces that tend to become the final resting places for the non-biodegradable bags.

Representatives of plastics companies counter that it would cost jobs, and other opponents contend that reusable bags are prone to germs and could pose a health risk.

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