LOS ANGELES (May 23, 4 p.m. ET) – The Los Angeles City Council voted 13 to 1 on May 23 to take the necessary steps to put into place a ban on plastic bags and a 10-cent-fee on paper bags.
The council's vote directed the City Attorney to draft an ordinance, which will be presented to the City Council in four months.
The bag ban was opposed by several Los Angeles-area plastic bag manufacturers, including Command Packaging, based in Vernon, Calif., and by the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is a unit of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington.
Command Packaging has said that a ban could trigger layoffs of between 20 and 130 employees, while APBA has said a ban would impact 1,900 workers in the area.
The law that the council instructed the city's attorney to write up will ban plastic bags and require stores to charge 10 cents for paper bags.
The vote was preceded by a rally. Plastics company workers asked the City Council to reject the ban. Supporters included TV actress Julie Louis-Dreyfus.
The vote was not the final say on the topic, although the results imply that a ban is a foregone conclusion. The May 23 vote directs the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that would actually enact the ban. That ordinance will be presented to the City Council in four months.
Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said in a statement: "Singling out and banning one product does not reduce litter and with this bag ban, the city chose to take a simplistic approach that takes away consumer choice instead of pursuing meaningful programs that encourage greater recycling of plastic bags and wraps, while preserving jobs."
Environmental groups like Californians Against Waste, however, pointed specifically to the marine debris problem as a reason to ban plastic bags.
“Plastic bags often become litter after being properly disposed,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, in a statement. “They blow out of trash cans, garbage trucks and landfills, and are carried by the wind and water throughout the environment. This is one instance where recycling doesn't seem to be the answer.”
Murray also told Plastics News: "We're on track to have bag bans in half the state before the end of the year. With or without legislative action, the single-use plastic shopping bag will be gone from California in less than 5 years.”
The vote makes Los Angeles the largest U.S. city to approve a ban on plastic bags.