Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CityWatchLA - Paper or Plastic?

CityWatch, Apr 12, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 29

The City of LA’s hopes of becoming the “Greenest Big City” diminish in the wake of continued large scale promises and small scale deliveries, the County of Los Angeles, the city of Santa Monica and now the City of Long Beach confront the little steps that add up to big results. The Long Beach City Council weighs in this week on proposed legislation that simply duplicates the County of LA ban and includes the following elements:

  • Plastic carryout bags are banned at all supermarkets and other grocery stores, convenience stores, food marts, pharmacies and drug stores, which are required to provide recyclable paper carryout bags to impose a charge of ten (10) cents to a customer to cover reasonable costs associated with the ordinance.
  • Paper bags must be made from a minimum of 40% post-consumer, recycled content.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved its approved ordinance after an extensive EIR and deliberative process that considered four alternatives before approving the “Ban Plastic Carryout Bags and Impose a Fee on Paper Carryout Bags in Los Angeles County.”

The County, Santa Monica, and Long Beach have all considered the many factors involved, from the cost of not acting to the impact of the ban on plastic bags.

One of the concerns in the debate over “Paper vs. Plastic” is the damage the use of paper represents but the County of LA reports that “paper bags have the potential to biodegrade if they are sufficiently exposed to oxygen, sunlight, moisture, soil, and microorganisms (such as bacteria);...” In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) reported that the recycling rate for paper bags was triple that of plastic bags (36.8% to 11.9%) in 2007. Therefore, based upon the available evidence, paper carryout bags are less likely to become litter than are plastic carryout bags.

Even so, the proposed 10-cent fee is expected to further reduce consumer use of paper bags. The ordinance also bans biodegradable and compostable bags because there is a lack of commercial composting facilities in the County that would be needed to process compostable or biodegradable plastic carryout bags.

The people of LA County use approximately 6 billion plastic carryout bags a year with less than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled, representing an enormous burden in our environment as well as a significant waste of oil and other fossil fuels used in the production of single-use bags.

While communities surrounding LA distinguish themselves as good stewards of their environment and their economy, the City of LA sits idle, confronted with the challenging question “Is Los Angeles ready for a ban on plastic bags?”

LA Green Screen addresses the issue of plastic bags with the screening of the documentary “Bag It” at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre followed by a panel discussion of the issues, obstacles and benefits of a City of LA ban on plastic bags.

LA Green Screen

Bag It

A film screening and a panel discussion
“Is Los Angeles ready for a ban on plastic bags?”

An Earth Week event
Wednesday, April 13th at 8pm
at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood

Bag It follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics. Jeb’s journey in this documentary film starts with simple questions: Are plastic bags really necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded?

Jeb looks beyond plastic bags and discovers that virtually everything in modern society—from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products—is made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process. When Jeb’s journey takes a personal twist, we see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up with us and what we can do about it. Today. Right now.

A panelist discussion immediately follows the screening.

Panelists include:

• Katherine Rubin - Managing Environmental Specialist, LADWP Sustainability Programs
• Andy Shrader - Independent member of the Clean Seas Coalition, co-lead grassroots organizer for Los Angeles citywide plastic bag ban push
• Meredith McCarthy - Heal the Bay

Tickets: $5 suggested donation

Where: Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 (come up Olive Hill through the south gate on Hollywood Blvd. just west of Vermont)

When: April 13th at 8pm (doors open at 7:30pm)

Directions and parking:
Bike accessible and bike parking available in front of the Gallery. Find your route via http://bikemetro.com
Metro accessible via Sunset & Vermont Red Line Station and Rapid and Local service on Hollywood Blvd., Sunset Blvd. and Vermont Ave. Find your route via http://metro.net
Car accessible via 101 Freeway and Vermont Ave. Free parking available throughout the park. Carpool if possible.

Enci Box

For more movie info visit www.BagItMovie.com

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net. )

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