In a move aimed at lessening pollution in the city, Los Angeles officials decided Tuesday to investigate alternatives to plastic bags, including possibly banning plastic bags in the city altogether.

The Daily Bruin reports that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works will conduct a study to look into the effects of plastic bags on the environment and landfills. Costs of other potential solutions such as compostable bags, which are commonly made of corn or potato starch, will also be taken into consideration. Finally, the department will also look into where compost sites will be located.

The recommendation to conduct a study was submitted by Los Angeles County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Yvonne Burke following a recent ban on plastic bags implemented in San Francisco.

Cities are increasingly discussing banning plastic bags as more studies come to light about how plastic bags clog water systems, do not disintegrate, and take a long time to decompose, said Gary Boze, spokesman for the Department of Public Works.

Compostable bags are looked on as a favorable replacement because the bags are made of renewable resources and are biodegradable, said Bryan Early, plastics policy associate at Californians Against Waste. But critics are against replacing plastic bags with compostable bags since they are more expensive and are non-recyclable.

“Putting a compostable bag in a recycling bin will contaminate the bin. It will create contamination issues as well as cost issues. Any increase in cost will be passed on to consumers,” said Kristin Power, vice president of the California Grocers Association. Power said she believes there are alternatives to the ban that would make more sense for residents, including a statewide recycling program.

The program was sponsored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, in Assembly Bill 2449, and will be implemented July 1. It will require certain retailers and chain pharmacies to take back bags from customers to recycle, and to print recycling messages on the bags.

Dorothy Le, cochair of the UCLA student group Ecology, Economy, Equity, said she was concerned the proposal to ban plastic bags was too simplistic and failed to take into account the increased use of paper bags, which require trees for production.

“I think it would be easier to charge people for the plastic bags that they use and to use less bags in general,” Le said.

Le said if markets switched to paper bags, which would be another solution to plastic bags, markets would have to spend more money to transport paper bags since they are heavier than plastic bags.

Le added that compostable bags would take a lot of energy to produce because the bags are made out of corn.

Currently, Kerckhoff Coffee House and other Associated Students UCLA eateries offer paper bags for students who want food to go, said Student Union Director Roy Champawat.

“There‘‘s no easy solution. There are costs and environmental issues to take in. We‘‘re looking for the best one,” Le said

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #17-2007-April 27, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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