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LA City Council Tentatively Approves Banning Plastic Bags

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Los Angeles, CA -

(FOX 11 / AP) Plastic grocery bags would become a thing of the past in Los Angeles under an ordinance tentatively approved today by the City Council, which will cast a final vote next week that would make the city the largest in the nation to enact such a ban.

If given final approval, the ordinance would take effect Jan. 1 for large stores, and six months later for smaller stores. The council voted 11-1 in support of the ban, with Councilman Bernard
Parks casting the lone dissenting vote. Since it failed to earn unanimous approval, the ordinance will need a second vote next week.

Under the ban, customers would be required to provide their own re-usable bags when they visit stores, or pay 10 cents each for paper bags.

Proponents said the ban would lead to cleaner beaches, storm drains, rivers and other public spaces that tend to become the final resting places for the non-biodegradable bags. But representatives for plastics companies countered that it would cost jobs, while other opponents contend that reusable bags are prone to germs and could pose a health risk.

The law is similar to one adopted by county of Los Angeles. Other cities in California, such as San Francisco and Santa Monica, also have plastic bag bans in place.

A statewide ban proposed by a former city councilman, Alex Padilla, was defeated during a Senate vote last month. The City Council's Energy and Environment Committee on Monday
unanimously approved the proposed ban, which was first introduced in 2011 by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian.

The proposed Los Angeles law's consistency with the county's ban, Koretz said, would "make this an effective regional ban and be a step in the right direction for the environment.''

The ban would take effect on Jan. 1, for large stores that make more than $2 million a year or are housed in retail space covering more than 10,000 square feet; and on July 1, 2014, for smaller stores that carry a limited selection of grocery products such as milk, bread, soda and snack foods, as well as those with beer, wine and hard liquor licenses.

Proceeds from the 10-cent charge for recyclable paper bags would be kept by stores and used only to recoup the costs of the bags and comply with the city ban, as well as on educational materials to promote reusable bag use. Stores would need to file quarterly reports on the number of paper bags given out, how much money the store receives for those bags and their efforts to encourage use of reusable bags.

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