By Ted AYALA
Following the implementation of a similar ordinance in unincorporated Los Angeles County, the Glendale City Council voted Tuesday to approve a ban on the use of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets and retail stores across the city. Already a way of life for residents of La Crescenta, the bag would eliminate plastic bags from retail counters, offering customers only paper bags at a cost of 10 cents per bag, or the purchase of a reusable bag.
After playing a brief video explaining some of the ordinance to the council and assembled audience, Public Works Director Steve Zurn received very warm applause.
“It’s not often that you get applause, Mr. Zurn,” noted Mayor Laura Friedman.
The mandatory ban follows an earlier voluntary ordinance that sought to reduce the use of plastic bags by as much as 65% by the year 2013. That program, however, had failed to meet its objectives.
“Those numbers just weren’t coming through,” said Zurn. “Single-use plastic bags continue to proliferate. These bags continue to be a prevalent source of pollution.”
Zurn also emphasized that the ban wouldn’t be limited to grocery stores. Large retailers down to small businesses all would have to comply with the ban.
“There were also a couple of other areas we wanted to consider as well, such as restaurants and farmers’ markets and ask them to use an alternative to plastic ban,” he added. “We’re proposing to model our ordinance on the county’s [ban].”
Rick Crandall, director of Sustainability for Albertson’s, spoke in support of the ordinance.
“I support it only because it’s the right thing for businesses and the community,” he said.
Councilman Ara Najarian, while voicing his general approval of the ban, had a few reservations.
“I think the 10 cent fee is too much for the residents of Glendale,” he said. “Let’s see if we can bring it down to maybe five cents. I don’t want the county dictating what we should do in Glendale.”
“I support this full ban,” said Mayor Friedman. “But this is really about changing people’s habits. That 10 cent charge is really up to the consumer, because [they] don’t have to pay it unless [they don’t] bring their own bag. It’s not something that’s being forced on anyone.”
Implementation of the ordinance is pending the outcome of an environmental study conducted by the city.