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Los Angeles Bans Plastic Bags, Limits Styrofoam

Plastic bags in plastic bagsFollowing the lead of our progressive neighbors to the north, San Francisco, the City of Los Angeles has decided to ban plastic bags by 2010. A bit of a disclaimer, though – the ban will be implemented only if the State does not impose a 25 cent fee for each bag requested by a customer. This bill (AB 2058) is coming up for a vote in August. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, putting pressure on lawmakers to reduce the 2.3 billion bags used by consumers in Los Angeles.

The announcement comes after Los Angeles County supervisors caused disappointment in January when they abandoned a threat to ban the bags, choosing instead a voluntary program where stores were to “encourage” customers to bring reusable bags. In other words, the status quo.

The City Council also voted to ban Styrofoam at all city-owned facilities, including LAX, by 2009. Though Los Angeles collects Styrofoam for recycling, there isn’t really a market for it – by the time it is melted down, very little material is left. Last I heard, Styrofoam was being stored until another solution could be found…like a ban! Ta da!

Both plastic bags and Styrofoam are a major environmental hazard in Los Angeles. If you’ve ever been to the beach after a rain, you know what I mean – the fact that the entire region’s storm system drains into the Santa Monica and San Pedro Bays, untreated, is hard to miss. Every cigarette butt, plastic bag, and Styrofoam cup (now in a bajillion teeny tiny pieces) that hit the streats in the Southland is now on the beach and in the water. The resulting contamination and threat to marine life is obvious. So, ban aside, you still have the personal choice not to accept these items – exercise it!

Photo credit: Paul Keller at Flikr under a Creative Commons license