The City of Long Beach has been slowly phasing out single-use plastic bags for almost a year now and according to Jim Kuhl, Long Beach Environmental Services Bureau Manager, retailers and consumers have been doing a splendid job.
The bill banning plastics bags (No. ORD-11-0009) began implementation in August of last year and started with large retailers by eliminating plastic bags and adding a paper bag charge. Starting 2012, the ban applied to small retailers such as food marts and convenience stores.
While consumers weren’t acquainted with the bag ban initially, most caught on quickly and now educational decals and signs are no longer needed at retail locations. Tim Mitchell, who directs the Ralph's at Marina Pacifica, notes that his store took down most ban notifications because they weren’t necessary anymore.
We are no longer doing that. Ninety-nine percent of the customers know about it. Very rarely does a customer come through and not know about the bag ban.
A year later, 80% of Ralph’s Marina Pacifica customers bring reusable bags when they shop; but Ralphs is only one of the many retailers in Long Beach that made the bag ban a reality. Superior Super Warehouse manager, Salvador Rios, promoted education about the ban and now even offers a free reusable bag with $20 purchase.
Generally, ESB Manager Jim Kuhl thinks the ban has been a huge success.
The compliance has been really good. We’re hearing that some stores not covered by the ban have decided to eliminate plastics bag and or charge for paper bags. We’ve heard of a few of the non-food retailers doing this.
Despite having dozens of cities with bag bans, California remains a state reliant on the plastic bag; but California has the potential to be as environmentally progressive as Long Beach, LA County, or even San Francisco with Assembly Bill 298.
The bill was authored by Assembly member Brownley and would keep retailers statewide from giving out plastic bags while charging for paper bags. If we want to see sustainable behavior statewide like the reusable bag rates at Ralph’s, we need legislation like AB 298 to pass.
*AB 298 is currently waiting to be heard in the Committee on Appropriations on 8/6