By Mary O’KEEFE
Ask Santa for reusable grocery bags this Christmas and come this summer they will come in handy!
This will be the last Thanksgiving grocery shoppers in La Crescenta will be able to take home their turkey and all its trimmings in a plastic bag from the market. Beginning July 26, 2011 those plastic bags that consumers have had a love/hate relationship will be a thing of the past.
Last week the Los Angeles County board of supervisors approved a ban on plastic one-time use grocery bags as part of an environmental effort. The ban is clear and to the point: “No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag.” Exceptions will be made for plastic bags containing fruit, vegetables or raw meat in order to prevent contamination.
A study by L.A. County Department of Public Works ordered by the board found that, “Plastic single use bags account for as much as 25% of litter stream.” Each year approximately six billion plastic bags are consumed in the County which is equivalent to about 1,600 bags per household per year.
That litter has to be cleaned up. According to the study, public agencies in California spend over $375 million each year for litter prevention, clean up and disposal.
Input was garnered from public works, environmental protection and grocer organizations for the report. They found that plastic bags significantly contribute to litter and have a negative impact on marine wildlife and the environment.
The study looked at alternatives like biodegradable bags but did not recommend that solution. They did however promote the use of reusable bags.
The ban has created an environmental upside but has others worried about an economic downside. There is a proposed 10 cent charge that will be added for paper bags. The vote was three to one in favor, with one supervisor absent. Supervisor Michael Antonovich was the lone vote against the ban citing economic reasons.
Antonovich said he was worried about smaller businesses being further burdened in the difficult economic times. Since the ban is only for the unincorporated areas of L.A. County Antonovich is concerned that smaller, independently owned stores might not be able to compete with those in nearby cities without the ordinance.
He also voiced his concern about the 10 cent charge for paper bags.
“My concern is that at a time of economic uncertainty and with a large number of businesses already leaving our state, this would not be the appropriate time [to continue] in our efforts to clean up the environment and impose this regulation on business and this fee on the consumer, “ Antonovich said.
Ralphs Market at 2675 Foothill Blvd. is in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County that will be affected by the ban. According to the store spokeswoman, the company is preparing for the switch from plastic to paper.
“We have had this [type of ban] before,” said Kendra Doyle, group vice president of Marketing and spokeswoman for Ralphs Market corporate.
She said there would be an education outreach conducted by the store to let people know what the ban is and how it will affect them.
“When we get started we will get the reusable bags, educate and work with our customers through the process,” she said.
As July 26 approaches there will be more reusable bags offered and signs in the parking lot to remind people not to leave their bags in the car.
“We will work hard to go through the transition,” Doyle added.
The ban will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide.
To find the PDF with the ordinance to ban plastic carryout bags go to