Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
May 23 2012

LA and SB Move Forward with Plastic Bag Bans!

by Bill Hickman

The Los Angeles and Santa Barbara City Councils each voted this week to move forward with plans to ban plastic checkout bags and place a ten-cent fee on paper bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and similar retailers within each of their respective city limits.  Both cities have held a series of public hearings on the issue and both have made a strong commitment to draft final ordinance language and perform the appropriate environmental review.  Once those are done the will be a final series of votes, hopefully by the end of summer.

Today, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to move forward with a plastic bag ban / reusable bag ordinance.  If Los Angeles gives final approval later this year it would pass San Francisco as the largest city in the United States with a plastic bag ban.  It’s been a long process, over five years in the making, and the Surfrider South Bay LA and West LA/Malibu Chapters are happy to work on the issue with the Clean Seas Coalition and other great organizations such as Heal The Bay, Environment California and 5 Gyres.

The City of Santa Barbara has also been working on the issue for years and voted 6-1 to move forward with a plastic bag ban / reusable bag ordinance.  Santa Barbara tried to establish a ‘Where’s Your Bag?’ voluntary plastic bag reduction program but it was mainly a flop as few stores bought in and there was no verifiable reduction of plastic bags used in the city.  After the try at voluntary reductions, the City Council is now pursuing a ban on plastic bags and ten-cent fee for paper bags at checkout.  Thanks to Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and the Community Environmental Council for their efforts.

The Surfrider Foundation supports plastic bag bans and fees because the ocean is turning into a plastic soup and source reductions of plastic pollution are needed to help protect the coastal environment and wildlife that can ingest or be entangled in plastic litter.  Plastic bags are the tip of the plastic pollution iceberg and the easiest to control with switching to reusable bags.  Hopefully more people will get the message and also reduce plastic consumption other ways.

Photos: Surfrider Activist Scott Bull at the Santa Barbara City Council and Surfrider Activists at the LA Bag Ban Rally.