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Los Angeles City Council bans plastic bags; rule to take effect in 2014

New York  -- Los Angeles is on the fast track to becoming the largest city in the nation to move toward a ban on “single-use” plastic bags after the City Council passed a resolution barring their use in supermarkets, convenience stores and any big retailer, which would include Target and Walmart, that sells groceries.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-1 to adopt the ban, giving preliminary approval to the ordinance that will then return to the council for a second vote next week before going on to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is expected to sign it.

The ordinance also sets a 10-cent price on paper bags to encourage customers to bring their own re-usable bags.  The new rule will be phased in over the next year, reaching large stores on Jan. 1, 2014, and smaller ones on July 1, 2014. Retailers that fail to comply with the law would face a fine of $100 for the first violation, $200 after the second and $500 after the third, with fines imposed for each day the violation continues.

According to a city report, some 2.3 billion single-use plastic carryout bags and 400 million single-use paper bags are used annually in Los Angeles. The city estimates only 5% of the plastic bags and 21% of the paper bags are recycled.