West Hollywood Bans Plastic Grocery Bags

The Westside city joins Malibu, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles County and others in seeking to limit the use of disposable sacks.

West Hollywood became the latest city to ban plastic bags at retail stores, joining San Francisco, Los Angeles County and several other municipalities across the state.

Under the ordinance passed Monday night, large retailers will have six months, until Feb. 20, 2013, to stop handing out single-use plastic bags to customers. Smaller retailers will have one year to comply.

Dave Heylen, a spokesman for the California Grocers Assn., said his organization does not oppose the ban, in part because it includes rules that the association has long supported.

The organization’s main concern, Heylen said, is that because the bans vary among cities and counties, retailers must follow different rules in different places.

For example, he said, grocery stores in unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County may not hand out plastic grocery bags to customers, but in the city of Los Angeles they can.

So a store on one side of a street may be forbidden to hand out plastic bags, while a store on the opposite side may still have access to them.

That’s significant, Heylen said, because the plastic bags are cheaper to purchase, ship and store.
The West Hollywood ban differs from some others because it includes all retailers – not just grocery stores.

Like other bans, it requires any paper bags to be made from 40 percent recycled material. Retailers must charge 10 cents for each paper bag.

Plastic bags without handles that are used to carry meat and produce to the checkout counter are still permitted under the measure.

Other cities that have already enacted bans on plastic bags include Calabasas, Laguna Beach and Malibu.

Los Angeles developed an ordinance and passed a version of it, but details are still being hammered out.

Even with the existing measures in place, Californians still use 19 billion single-use plastic bags each year, West Hollywood officials said.

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