L.A.’s plastic bag ban goes into effect Jan. 1

A shopper carries purchases in a reusable tote.
(David McNew / Getty Images)

Happy New Year! And don’t forget to take your own shopping tote to the supermarket. Los Angeles’ ban on plastic bags at grocery stores goes into effect on Jan. 1.

Starting Wednesday, it will be illegal for big grocery chains, including retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart that sell groceries, to distribute disposable plastic bags. In July, smaller markets will have to comply with the ban as well.

Customers will have to bring their own reusable bags or pay a 10-cent fee for each paper bag requested, according to the ordinance that Los Angeles City Council members passed in June. As of Jan. 1, L.A. will be the largest city in the U.S. to ban plastic grocery bags.


The ban was passed to prevent billions of plastic bags from clogging landfills, waterways and the ocean, where they kill marine life. Council members have said they hope to send a message to state lawmakers by enacting the law.

Although a statewide ban was narrowly defeated in the Legislature, about a third of California’s population will now be covered by various municipal bans on plastic and paper bags.

Businesses that flout the Los Angeles ban will face a fine of $100 after the first violation, $200 after the second and $500 after the third, with fines imposed for each day that violations continue.


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