By Michael YEGHIAYAN
The City of Glendale has joined a number of cities across California with the implementation of an ordinance banning the use of carryout plastic bags at large food retailers. The ordinance, which took effect on July 1, will also require smaller food retailers to follow suit at the end of the year.
In addition to the ban, a required 10-cent surcharge will be implemented for the purchase of a carryout paper bag. The city is encouraging customers to bring and make use of recyclable bags while food shopping.
The ordinance is designed to continue Glendale’s efforts to improve conservation strategies and reduce litter citywide.
Opponents of the measure argue that restrictions on plastic bags may divert commerce into areas that have not passed similar legislation, which threatens local businesses struggling in the current economy. They also claim that the 10-cent surcharge represents an unfair additional tax on consumers.
According to Glendale Public Information Officer Tom Lorenz, the economic impact of the ban is negligible, especially as other cities follow suit. He pointed to the program’s success across the county as evidence of its effectiveness.
The July 1 compliance deadline affects farmer’s markets and grocery stores with more than $2 million in gross income or with at least 10,000 feet of retail space. Smaller grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience stores and pharmacies are among the businesses required to be in compliance of the law by Jan. 1, 2014.
The unincorporated areas of Los Angeles, including La Crescenta and Montrose, have faced a plastic bag ban since a November 2010 vote by the Los Angeles County board of supervisors.
Similar restrictions have been passed in other parts of Los Angeles County in recent years. A June 18 vote by the Los Angeles City Council saw the passing of a similar ordinance with an 11-1 margin, making it the largest city to ban plastic bags in the United States. According to the County Public Works website, approximately two-thirds of Los Angeles County has restricted the use of carryout plastic bags to date.
Heal the Bay, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds, applauded the decisions by Glendale and other cities in Los Angeles County. Their “Ban the Bag” campaign promotes replacing all single use carryout bags with heavy-duty, reusable alternatives.
“If you visit the Los Angeles River, you’re guaranteed to see the impact plastic bags have on our local environment, as they dangle from trees, float on the water and entangle wildlife. And eventually, these bags, which are costly to clean up, will end up in the ocean,” said Heal the Bay Communications Manager Anne Bergman. “It’s our hope that once Angelenos see how easy it is to bring our own reusable bags to the grocery store, we’ll begin to make further changes in our daily lives to reduce the amount of disposable plastic items we use.”
A California Supreme Court challenge of the county ordinance was denied review in May.