LA officials endorse Calif. bill to ban plastic bags

A pile of plastic bags await recycling.
A pile of plastic bags await recycling.
evelynishere/Flickr CC

KOREATOWN - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky today stood in front of a Vons supermarket in Koreatown today to endorse an Assembly bill nicknamed "No More Urban Tumbleweeds.''

Los Angeles will consider enacting its own bans on plastic shopping bags if the California Senate yields to industry pressure and rejects a proposed bag ban, officials said.

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, a Santa Monica democrat, has been carrying the bill in Sacramento. She says bag manufacturers and business groups "have been pulling out every stop to block this bill in the Senate,'' where approval must be made before summer adjournment on Tuesday.

"They are targeting individual senators with ads in their local districts, and the American Chemistry Council and its affiliates are literally hiring lobbyists every day to focus on individual senators,'' Brownley said.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to announce his stand on the bill, Brownley said.

Her proposal would prohibit stores from handing out plastic bags of any type, as well as paper bags that are made out of wood pulp or paper mill waste.

Stores would be allowed to dispense paper bags made with at least 40 percent of pulp coming from waste paper that is recycled by consumers.

Stores would not be allowed to charge their customers more than the wholesale price they paid for those so-called 40 percent consumer recycled sacks.

"But obviously, the whole idea here is for people to convert to new habits and bring their own permanent bags to stores with them,'' she said.

The bag manufacturers are running commercials in Sacramento making fun of California's "bag police.'' The industry claims that the bag ban would cost 1,000 California jobs and cost consumers $1 billion a year.

Brownley says both claims are false, and that the companies making throw-away bags can shift workers to make permanent sacks.