Plastic Bag Ban Passed By LB City Council

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long beach bans plastic bags

City Council votes to ban the use of plastic carry out bags in Long Beach.

On Tuesday, May 17, the Long Beach City Council approved an ordinance that bans merchants from handing out plastic carry-out bags and imposes a ten-cent charge on recyclable, paper carry-out bags at all supermarkets and other grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores, convenience stores, foodmarts, and Long Beach farmers markets. The ban was passed unanimously by the five councilmembers who were present — DeLong, O’Donnell, Gabelich and Schipske were absent.

“Last night’s vote marks another milestone in an effort by Long Beach to take control of its own wasteshed by banning plastic bags from its litter stream and setting an example for cities along the Los Angeles River,” said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal who authored the original motion and called for a public education program in December, 2010. Councilmembers Gary DeLong (Third District) and Robert Garcia (First District) co-sponsored the motion.

The vote, which was met with applause from a mostly supportive audience that included residents, environmentalists and representatives from the plastic bag industry, requires a store to provide or make available to a customer only recyclable, paper carry-out bags or reusable bags.

The Long Beach ordinance is based largely on a similar ban on bags adopted recently in L.A. County’s unincorporated areas.

The Ordinance Banning Plastic Bags in Long Beach

  • includes compostable and biodegradable plastic carryout bags in the definition of plastic carry out bags, and, as a result, these types of plastic bags would be banned as well
  • requires that paper bags be one hundred percent (100%) recyclable overall, contain a minimum of forty percent (40%) post-consumer recycled material, and be accepted for recycling in curbside programs in the City/County, among other criteria
  • requires that “reusable bags” be designed for a minimum lifetime of 125 uses, be machine washable, and not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts, among other criteria

For updates and more information about the Plastic Bag Ordinance, visit and click on Plastic Bag Ban Update or go here to download the Ordinance as a PDF.

As part of the policy implementation, Lowenthal asked city staff to develop a web link and hotline for affected businesses to receive information and report violations. The motion also requested a monitoring and compliance process that uses existing health or environmental related monitoring activities of the affected stores. As part of the outreach campaign, Lowenthal hopes to work with city staff to develop a strategy for free reusable bag giveaways throughout the city.

Lowenthal has consistently pushed for Long Beach residents to become less dependent on single use bags (paper and plastic), supporting state legislation and passing out thousands of bags to residents at local grocery stores while sponsoring “Day Without a Bag” for the last three years in partnership with Heal the Bay and several other environmental groups.

“So much evidence points to the extremely detrimental environmental, energy and pocketbook costs associated with single use bags – we’ve got to think differently about what is convenient or sensible in this instance.  Reusable bags are clearly more convenient, cost effective and reliable than single use bags,” said Lowenthal.

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