Los Angeles bans plastic bags in grocery stores

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles became the biggest city in the US to ban free plastic bags in grocery stores following a city council vote on Tuesday.

The 9-1 vote supports a ban that will take effect on Jan 1 for large stores, City News Service reported. Under the law, shoppers will have to tote their own bags, or pay 10 cents each for paper bags.

About US$2 million (S$2.5 million) a year is spent to clean up plastic bag litter in Los Angeles. Sanitation authorities estimate more than 228,000 bags are distributed in the city every hour.

The city plans to hand out 1 million reusable bags in low-income areas.

The ban would apply to stores that sell perishable foods, such as convenience stores, supermarkets and large retailers, like Wal-Mart. Stores face fines of up to US$500 for defying the ban and handing out single-use bags.

Small stores have until June 2014 to begin enforcing.

Stores will be required to file quarterly reports on the number of paper bags purchased.

Santa Monica and San Francisco already have plastic bag bans.

The vote on Los Angeles' ban comes a month after a similar measure failed in the California Legislature. It was the fifth such bill to fail in the state Senate since 2010.

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