Paper bags or Plastic? NEITHER says L.A.

If you’re the type of person who freezes up with indecision every time you’re asked that question, consider moving to Los Angeles — the city may decide for you.

“A Los Angeles City Council committee moved forward Wednesday with a plan to end the use of paper and plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines, saying such a move would spur consumers to switch to more environmentally friendly reusable ones,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

By arguing that banning bags is just as important as banning smoking, the city’s Energy and Environment Committee has advanced a plan to ban bags at some 7,500 stores.

The proposal went forward with total disregard for plastic bag manufacturers and their employees. “I will be losing my job, losing my insurance. Please take that into consideration,” said Norma Fierro, an employee of Crown Poly, a company which expects to layoff between 20 and 130 employees if the ban in approved, according to the Times.

20-130 employees? That’s okay: it’s not like we’re in the middle of a faltering economy where even an investment of $5 million dollars can barely muster up 15 permanent jobs; saving the world from shopping bags if far more noble endeavor.

Well, maybe that’s unfair. Perhaps it didn’t occur to the city council that people might lose their jobs over the bag ban.

“Councilman Paul Koretz said he expected that Crown Poly would need to eliminate only a small number of positions,” the Times reports. Wait — the city council is aware the ban will result in layoffs?


Okay, so aside from the expected firings, what‘s the city’s plan to implement the ban? The Times explains:

"Under the proposal, the council would still need to draft an ordinance and initiate an environmental review of the bag phaseout. Once the ordinance is in effect, city officials would provide six months’ warning to stores — including supermarkets and other retailers that sell food — that plastic bags would no longer be permitted. Once the plastic bag ban is in place, supermarkets would be required to charge 10 cents for each paper bag. Six months later, paper bags would be prohibited as well, said Koretz, who wrote the proposal."

Unsurprisingly, the ban is being enthusiastically supported by environmentalist groups who say the vast majority of plastic bags don’t get recycled properly and are littering the city and ocean. They argue the ban will force consumers to use reusable bags.

“People will adjust,” councilman Dennis Zine said. “They’ll adapt.” Or we’ll just try to carry everything all at once…which is what we do half the time anyway.

And its gets even better. Mark Daniels, Vice President of Sustainability and Environmental Policy for Helix Poly, wrote in a statement (via the Daily Caller):

"The proposed policy will have no real impact on litter, instead it will only force residents to purchase less environmentally-friendly alternatives like reusable bags, nearly all of which are not recyclable, are less sanitary, are made in China using foreign oil, and often contain heavy metals. Worse, bag bans inflict a regressive tax on the disadvantaged, impose a burden on small businesses, and are a threat to local manufacturing jobs."

But despite these reasonable objections, it doesn’t look like the council has any plans to abandon its pursuit of a bag-free city. In fact, some council members want it take a step further.

“Andrea Alarcon, president of the Board of Public Works, had urged the panel to embrace a complete ban [as opposed to a phaseout], saying paper bags lead to deforestation,” the Times reports.

Really? We guess this means the next time we’re asked to choose between paper or plastic, what we’re really being asked is whether we’d rather destroy the ocean or level a forest. Decisions, decisions…


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