Now that Los Angeles, the country’s second largest city, has passed a local ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, representatives from the country’s first and third largest cities want to follow suit. Alderman Joe Moreno has already proposed an ordinance in Chicago, and according to Bloomberg Business Week, a council member in New York City is planning to introduce an ordinance phasing out plastic bags.
"It does send a message that the second- and third-largest cities in the country are going to act," said Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, author of that city’s proposal. "Local officials are dealing with this because they have to deal with the plastic bags on the sidewalks and in the waterways."
California taxpayers are on the hook for up to $103 million in clean up costs annually due to plastic bag litter. Even when plastic bags are properly disposed, they are easily picked up by the wind and deposited in the environment because of their lightweight material and aerodynamic structure. Despite claims by the plastic industry that plastic bags are easily recyclable, the truth is that only about 3 percent of plastic bags are actually recycled.
Consumption of single use plastic grocery bags peaked around 2005 at more than 21 billion bags, but has seen a steady decline as consumers and retailers sought alternatives. The ordinances adopted by local governments (77 to date) are reducing plastic bag generation in California, and ordinances currently under consideration have the potential to reduce plastic by another 2-3 billion bags annually.
Phasing out single-use plastic bags is not a new phenomenon, Nantucket, MA has had a ban in effect since the 1990s. Other communities, including Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Austin, TX, Aspen, CO and Westport, CT have all banned single-use plastic bags.
Find out more about plastic bag pollution and its impacts.
Photo Credit: Curtis Cartier
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