Saturday, November 20, 2010
In what may be California's most dramatic action against single-use plastic yet, the Los Angeles County Supervisors voted Nov. 16 to ban plastic grocery bags in unincorporated areas.
The ban will take effect in July 2011, unless expected court challenges delay it. Shoppers can pay an extra 10 cents for a paper bag if they don't bring their own reusables.
Several California cities, including San Francisco and Malibu, have adopted similar but less aggressive, measures.
Environmentalists argue that modern society's glut of plastic not only pollutes the ocean and kills marine mammals, but also poisons our bodies - a point emphasized in last night's local screening of the independent documentary Bag It.
The plastics industry counters that plastic is an indispensable part of modern society, littering is better addressed by public education than regulation, and banning plastic bags would hurt the economy.
There was some momentum for a statewide plastic bag ban with this year's AB 1998, which would have banned single-use plastic bags in California. The Assembly passed the bill in June, and Gov. Schwarzenegger indicated he would sign it. But with heavy plastics industry lobbying, Senate Republicans managed to stymie the bill in the final hours of the legislative session Aug. 31.