Los Angeles Becomes Largest City to Ban Plastic Bags

Los Angeles will become the most populous U.S. city to outlaw plastic shopping bags, joining Seattle, San Francisco and Westport, Connecticut, in concluding that the environmental drawbacks of the sacks outweigh consumer convenience.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-1 to require stores that make more than $2 million a year or occupy retail space measuring more than 10,000 square feet to phase out plastic bags by Jan. 1; smaller stores will have until July 1, 2014. Paper bags will be available for 10 cents, with proceeds going to the stores.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance, a lobbying group for the plastic-bag industry, said its members employ 30,800 people in about 350 U.S. communities. The organization, which didn’t immediately comment on today’s decision, said in a statement after a preliminary vote last week that the ban sent a “terrible message” to small businesses and manufacturers.

“Los Angeles is often a trendsetter,” Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the city ordinance, said in an interview. “This could be a model for the rest of the country.”

A Chicago alderman has introduced a similar measure, while a New York City councilman said he plans to introduce a proposal this summer. Both cited pollution of waterways and public spaces.

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