Environment & Science

Plastic bag ban takes effect in Long Beach

A plastic bag caught in a tree.
A plastic bag caught in a tree.
Kate Ter Haar/Flickr

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If you shop in Long Beach, you might want to stash a few reusable bags in your car before heading to the grocery or drug store. Today, Long Beach joins a growing list of California cities and counties that restrict the use of plastic shopping bags.

The Long Beach prohibition applies immediately at larger supermarkets and chain stores.

People in California's supplemental food programs won't have to pay for paper bags. But everyone else will pay an extra 10 cents if they want to take their purchases home in one.

Smaller corner stores get a little extra time – they will fall under the ban at the start of next year.

The goal of these ordinances is to limit the amount of plastic debris in landfills and the ocean. Californians Against Waste estimates that state residents use 12 million of those light, crinkly disposable bags a year.

In Southern California, unincorporated L.A. County has a bag ban. So do the cities of Santa Monica, Malibu, Calabasas and Manhattan Beach. In a ruling last month, the state supreme court enabled the ordinance in Manhattan Beach to go forward.

Environmental advocates for such bans say that'll help spur more local prohibitions on plastic around California. Heal the Bay and other groups don't prefer a city-by-city patchwork approach. Efforts at a statewide ban failed last year when a bill died in the legislature.