L.A.’s Plastic Bag Ban Spreads to 5,000 Neighborhood Stores

By City News Service

Los Angeles’ ban on plastic grocery bags will expand to smaller grocery stores starting today.

The single-use plastic bag ban went into effect in January for thousands of supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores such as Ralphs and Vons; CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens and 7-Eleven.

Smaller shops were given six more months to adjust to the new law.

Starting today, the ban will also apply to about 5,000 shops with less than 10,000 square feet of retail space or that gross less than $2 million annually in sales. These stores, including liquor stores, usually carry a limited selection of grocery products such as milk, bread, soda, snack foods and dry
goods.

Paper bags are still available at grocery stores large and small, but cost 10 cents each. Proceeds from this charge will be kept by stores and can only be used to recoup the costs of the bags and comply with the city ban. It is also meant to pay for materials to promote reusable bags.

Not all plastic bags are banned. Clear plastic sacks for produce and meat, as well as bags for pharmacy items, will still be available and free to shoppers. Restaurants, department stores and other shops that do not carry grocery items are exempt from the ban.

Grocery retailers could be fined for each day they violate the ban — $100 for the first violation, as much as $200 for the second, and up to $500 for the third.

City Councilmen Paul Koretz, whose office spearheaded the effort to ban plastic bags in Los Angeles, called the expansion to smaller stores “the sequel” to the ban that took effect in January.

City officials declared the first six months of the ban a success, saying compliance has been widespread at the big or top-grossing stores.

Koretz said he has observed that plastic bags have “vanished” from the streets in recent months. Critics of the non-biodegradable plastic sacks say that, in addition to being unsightly, the bags take up space in landfills and hurt ecosystems in oceans and streams.

Each store must make quarterly reports to the city on the progress of the ban, including the amount collected from the 10-cent paper bag charge, said Enrique Zaldivar, director of the Bureau of Sanitation.

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July 1, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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