This week with a city council vote of 13-1, Los Angeles became the largest metropolis in the United States to ban plastic bags outright and also impose a charge on paper bags. Although the ban has been met with controversy and complaints from both plastic bag manufacturers and Los Angeles citizens, the city council hopes that by promoting reusable bags, it will be a positive step in making the city a healthier and greener environment. The program will take effect later this year and will be modeled after similar initiatives in other California cities including San Jose, San Francisco and Santa Monica, among others. The plastic bag ban affects 7,500 stores, starting with large retailers, requiring them to phase out plastic bags over six months, meanwhile smaller shops have a year.
The reusable bag initiative is a response to growing concern about landfills, clean water programs and overall waste in California and the greater United States. Reports from Sustainable Business claim that 12 billion plastic bags are consumed in California over the course of a year, and less than 5% are recycled. The ban proposes to reduce the amount of the plastic bag garbage that heads to landfills, resulting in reported maintenance costs of $25 million per year in California. In a recent report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Ocean Conservancy, these plastic bags and PET bottles account for 80% of marine litter around the world.
Members of opposing groups argue that plastic bag bans not only reduce jobs in the plastic manufacturing business, many of the reusable bags sold are not recyclable themselves. In response, the Los Angeles City Council said that they would impose a requirement that all reusable bags are recyclable.
Mixed Bag Designs’ reusable grocery bags are made from the same plastic used to make yogurt cups and up to 40% of the plastic used in our bags is recycled from post-consumer use. These reusable bags are recyclable anywhere #5 plastic is collected (the same place you can recycle those yogurt cups and hummus tubs) – including Whole Foods locations across the country.