June 18 - Breaking: LA Moves to Become Largest City in US to Phase Out Plastic Bags

For Immediate Release: June 18, 2013

Contact: Mark Murray (916) 443-5422

City of Los Angeles Moves to Become the Largest City In North America to Phase Out Plastic Bags

The City of Los Angeles today became the largest city in the country and 77th jurisdiction in the State of California to approve an ordinance to phase out the use of plastic grocery bags.

If the measure is signed, as expected, by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the phase out of single use plastic grocery bags at large grocery stores will begin January 1, 2014, and extend to smaller ‘convenience and liquor stores’ by July 1, 2014.

"By 2014, more than one-third of Californians—13 million people—will live in communities that no longer have to deal with the scourge and cost of single use plastic grocery bags," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste.

The adoption of the ordinance comes just two weeks after the California State Senate fell 3 votes short of passing a statewide phase-out of single use plastic bags (SB 405 by State Senator Alex Padilla).

In passing the ordinance, several members of the council, including City Council President Herb Wesson—a former Speaker of the State Assembly—called on the State Legislature to revisit the issue statewide.

"Let’s hope that the passage of this ordinance blows new life into Senator Padilla’s legislation," said Council President Herb Wesson.

Another dozen jurisdictions are expected to adopt ordinances phasing out single-use plastic later this year, including the Cities of Sacramento and Chico, and the Counties of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Sonoma, and Monterey.

"While we remain disappointed in the missed opportunity by the legislature to dramatically reduce plastic pollution and waste in California and save consumers hundreds of millions in one-time use bag costs, the fate of the plastic grocery bag is sealed. The plastic grocery bag, which only came on the scene in the 1970’s, will be extinct in California before the end of this decade," said Murray.

The use of single-use plastic bags peaked in 2005, when an estimated 21 billion plastic bags were distributed in California. Today that number has been reduced by better than one-third—to less than 14 billion. In 2014, the number of plastic grocery bags is expected to fall below 10 billion for the first time since the 1980’s.

"Across California, consumers are voting with their feet, eschewing single use plastic bags in favor of durable, reusable bags and recycled paper," said Murray.

So while Senate Bill 405 may have been temporarily tabled, the campaign to eliminate single use plastic packaging and waste is succeeding and will continue.


(photo caption: Councilmember Paul Koretz, author of the city's bag ordinance, reads the warning labels on single-use plastic bags during the council meeting)