LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles will become the most populous U.S. city to outlaw plastic shopping bags, joining Seattle, San Francisco and Westport, Conn., in concluding that the environmental drawbacks of the sacks outweigh consumer convenience.
The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-1 on Tuesday to require stores that make more than $2 million a year or occupy retail space measuring more than 10,000 square feet to phase out plastic bags by Jan. 1; smaller stores will have until July 1, 2014. Paper bags will be available for 10 cents, with proceeds going to the stores.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, a lobbying group for the plastic-bag industry, said its members employ 30,800 people in about 350 U.S. communities.
The organization, which didn’t immediately comment on Tuesday’s decision, said in a statement after a preliminary vote last week that the ban sent a “terrible message” to small businesses and manufacturers.
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“Los Angeles is often a trendsetter,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the city ordinance. “This could be a model for the rest of the country.”
A Chicago alderman has introduced a similar measure, while a New York City councilman said he plans to introduce a proposal this summer. Both cited pollution of waterways and public spaces.
The ordinance applies not just to food stores and mini marts but also big retail chains with their own line of groceries, such as Target and Wal-Mart.
The ordinance, which has been in the works for years, would go into effect gradually, reaching large stores Jan. 1 and smaller ones July 1, 2014. Customers will either have to bring their own reusable bags or pay a 10-cent fee for each paper one requested, according to the ordinance.
In Los Angeles, businesses that fail to comply with the law would face a fine of $100 after the first violation, $200 after the second and $500 after the third. Fines would be imposed for each day the violation continues.