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Santa Monica Approves Ban on Plastic Bags

The council prohibits distribution of single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and retailers, but will allow restaurants to continue giving out the bags.
January 31, 2011

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - The Santa Monica City Council approved a ban of plastic bags in all retail outlets except for restaurants, the Los Angeles Times reports. The city joins other California municipalities, such as San Francisco and San Jose, in prohibiting the use of plastic bags. Next month, American Samoa will ban plastic bags.

Retailers will be able to sell paper bags priced at a dime or more and supermarkets will be allowed to stock produce bags for public health reasons. Grocery and drug stores can hand out paper bags made with a high percentage of recycled materials. Heal the Bay, along with environmental advocates, spearheaded the effort to curb widespread use of plastic bags.

Two years ago, Santa Monica had considered such a ban, but a lawsuit threat from an industry group halted proceedings until the city could investigate the environmental impact of the ordinance. The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition praised the city for changing the ordinance based on its findings. For instance, the first measure banned reusable polyethylene bags but the city nixed that prohibition after a study found that those bags can be cleaned and reused many times.

With less than 5 percent of plastic grocery bags recycled in California, Heal the Bay said it would target Los Angeles city next. Currently, only unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County have a plastic bag ban.

Oregon is the only state considering a statewide ban on plastic bags. California rejected a similar ban in September.