MANHATTAN BEACH, CA - AUGUST 21: The wind blows a plastic bag around the beach near the Manhattan Beach Pier on August 21, 2008 in the Los Angeles area city of Manhattan Beach, California. A group of about 10 plastic manufacturers and retailers calling themselves the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition has filed suit against the city of Manhattan Beach over a ban on plastic bags given out by stores. Ironically, the group is asking a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to block the ban on grounds that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not fully analyzing the environmental effects of such a ban. The ban comes on the heels of a policy recently approved by the Los Angeles City Council to ban plastic bags in their city by 2010 if the state does not impose a 25-cent fee on shoppers who request plastics carrying bags. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Los Angeles County voted Tuesday to ban stores from using single-use plastic bags.
Under the ordinance, single-use plastic grocery bags are banned at grocery stores, pharmacies and other shops in unincorporated Los Angeles County areas. The population in LA's unincorporated areas is about 1.1 million people.
The Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance Tuesday morning.
Supporters clapped and cheered the decision. Opponents, however, say they are concerned that jobs will be lost and residents in poorer neighborhoods will struggle with fees for paper and reusable bags.
The ban is aimed at reducing by 50 percent the number of plastic bags that wind up in landfills, river beds and other areas.
According to the environmental group Heal the Bay, which is backing the ordinance, the state spends $25 million a year to collect and dispose of plastic bags. About 19 billion plastic bags are used in California each year, generating almost 150,000 tons of waste, according to the group.
Under the proposed county ordinance, grocery stores and other retail outlets would be banned from using the bags. The ban would begin in some stores July 1 and be expanded to every store as defined in the ordinance on Jan. 1, 2012.
Stores would still be allowed to offer customers recyclable paper bags, but there would be a 10 cent charge per bag.
According to a report to the board prepared by county Public Works Director Gail Farber, the ban would slash the number of plastic bags used by each county household from the 2007 level of 1,600 to less than 800 by 2013. It would also save the county and local cities about $4 million in litter- reduction costs, and reduce by 50 percent the number of bags sent to landfills.
In July, the group Environment California presented about 1,800 signatures to Los Angeles County supervisors, urging a countywide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags.