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LA County passes plastic bag ban

Nov. 16, 2010 at 8:44 PM

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to prohibit stores in unincorporated county areas from giving out plastic shopping bags to customers.

The Los Angeles Times reported the ban, which does not affect the 88 cities in the county, is one of the nation's most aggressive environmental measures.

The new rule, which will cover nearly 1.1 million county residents when it goes into effect next July, reads, "No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag." Exceptions would be made for plastic bags used to contain fruit, vegetables or raw meat to prevent contamination with other grocery items, the Times reported.

The ordinance provides that shop owners choosing to offer paper bags to customers must sell them for 10 cents apiece. The stores will keep the revenue to buy the paper bags and educate customers about the rule, the Times reported.

"Plastic bags … pollute the urban landscape. They are what we call in our county urban tumbleweed," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Previous county attempts to promote recycling of plastic bags at grocery stores failed, said Mark Gold, president of the Santa Monica environmental group, Heal the Bay.

"You cannot recycle your way out of the plastic bag problem. The cost of convenience can no longer be at the expense of the environment," said Gold.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, the only supervisor to oppose the ban, said small mom-and-pop stores may suffer financially because they wouldn't be able to afford paper and reusable bag large volume purchases. He also said the ordinance could force poor people to buy bags in which to carry their lunch or pick up pet waste.

"At a time of economic uncertainty, with a large number of businesses leaving our state and community, this would not be an appropriate time ... to impose this additional regulation," Antonovich said.

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