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The Santa Monica City Council in California voted unanimously this week to ban the distribution of free, single-use plastic bags by retailers, the Los Angeles Times writes, saying that the bags are “about as popular as restaurant ashtrays in this progressive beachfront city.”

According to the story, “Under the ordinance, plastic bags will no longer be available at grocery stores, clothing shops or other retailers, although restaurants may use them for takeout food. Smaller plastic ‘product bags’ with no handles, like those used for produce, will be allowed for public health reasons ... Shoppers may bring reusable bags to the stores or purchase paper bags at checkout for at least 10 cents each. Grocery stores and pharmacies would be able to distribute paper bags made with a high proportion of recycled material.”

The story notes that the new ordinance was supported by the Heal the Bay environmental coalition, and opposed by a group called the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which “commended Santa Monica for making changes based on environmental analyses. For example, the original proposal would have banned reusable polyethylene bags in favor of bags made of cloth or other durable, washable materials. But the city changed course based on a Los Angeles County environmental study that said polyethylene reusable bags can be wiped clean and used multiple times, and meet a higher standard than the single-use grocery bags.”

Heal the Bay has said that its next goal is to get the city of Los Angeles to pass a similar ordinance.
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