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West Hollywood plastic-bag ban goes into effect at small stores

West Hollywood's ban on single-use plastic bags in checkout lines is now in effect for all retailers.

Large retailers – those with buildings of 10,000 square feet or more – were required to stop using the bags in February. For smaller stores, the ban took effect Tuesday.

The West Hollywood City Council adopted an ordinance last year prohibiting the 1.9-square-mile city's hundreds of retail stores – including pharmacies, supermarkets, clothing stores and newsstands – from distributing plastic bags. Farmers markets, restaurants and other food service providers are excluded from the ban.

The ban is intended to reduce landfill waste and to encourage residents to shop with reusable bags or paper bags made with recycled materials.

Plastic bags “are costing us money and filling up landfills,” City Councilman Jeffrey Prang, then the mayor, said before the ban was passed.

Under the law, stores can provide paper bags made with at least 40% post-consumer content, but must charge 10 cents for each one as an incentive to encourage reusables. Customers who qualify for subsidized groceries aren't required to pay the bag fee.

The plastic-bag ban has met with little resistance, city officials said.

San Francisco approved California's first ban on plastic bags in 2007 and since then many municipalities -- including Malibu, Santa Monica and Pasadena -- have followed suit.

In June, Los Angeles became the largest city to back a ban on plastic grocery bags by approving an ordinance that applies to both smaller stores and big retail chains like Target and Wal-Mart.

Los Angeles’ ordinance, like West Hollywood’s, will go into effect gradually, reaching large stores Jan. 1 and smaller ones July 1, 2014. Customers will have to bring their own reusable bags or pay a 10-cent fee for each paper bag requested, according to the ordinance.

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