Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets.
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to phase out single-use plastic bags over the next 12 months at an estimated 7,500 stores, according to reports. After a year, retailers can charge 10 cents for paper bags. The city's program would be modeled after bag bans in other California cities.
This ban is expected to take effect later this year once a four-month environmental impact report of the bag ban is complete and the council adopts an ordinance.
"Los Angeles' bag ban ordinance is a significant step toward eliminating single-use bags around our state," said California assemblywoman Julia Brownley in a statement. "There is no time to waste in reversing the alarming 100-fold increase of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. I applaud the City Council for standing up to the plastic bag manufacturers who lobbied hard to defeat this ban and I will continue to work on a statewide ban to make an even larger dent in our plastic bag habit. All Californians benefit from a healthier environment."
According to a story by the Los Angeles Times, employees of plastic bag manufacturers had pleaded their case, and said they feared they would soon be unemployed. "My family depends on my job and my benefits, too," said Alejandro Ortega, a 10-year employee of plastic manufacturer Crown Poly.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, an organization representing the United States' plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sector, which employs 30,800 workers in 349 communities across the nation, 1,900 of which are in California.
Prior to Wednesday's announcement, Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, stated the association is "disappointed" by the Council's decision.
"By voting to move forward with this ban, the City of Los Angeles will place an onerous policy on its residents that puts the jobs of hundreds of Angelenos at risk who work in the bag manufacturing and recycling sector," he stated. "At a time when we should be creating more manufacturing jobs, this ban takes them away, while pushing people to imported reusable bags which are produced overseas and are a less-environmentally friendly option."
He went on to say the ban, "misses an opportunity to provide a more effective solution for consumers and the environment - programs that encourage greater recycling of plastic and paper bags and preserve jobs."