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The battle over the bag

January 27, 2008

Re "Plastic bags outlast proposed county ban," Jan. 23

Los Angeles County has demonstrated a commitment to addressing a significant menace to our quality of life -- plastic bag litter.

The county's initiative requires benchmarks of a 30% reduction of plastic bags by 2010 and a 65% reduction by 2013, or an all-out ban will be seen as our most viable option.

In an effort to change consumer preferences and reduce the number of bags, the county's Single-Use Bag Reduction and Recycling Program unites industry and environmentalists in employing tactics, including aggressive promotion of reusable bags, consistent and provocative environmental outreach and, perhaps most promising, the implementation of a per-bag fee.

By adopting this program, the county anticipates 1.8 billion fewer bags circulating in 2010, and 3.9 billion by 2013 -- no small feat.

If Angelenos want to see fewer bags blowing in the wind, we need citizens urging their city officials to partner with the county in setting these firm benchmarks.

We need media outlets committed to sustaining a public dialogue about the high cost and environmental effect of inappropriate bag disposal.

And we need consumers to opt not for paper over plastic, but for reusable.

Yvonne B. Burke

Supervisor

Los Angeles County

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I don't know what disgusts me more: the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' spineless decision to not ban plastic bags outright, or its lame excuses as to why it opted for the weakest alternative.

Putting the responsibility for cutting use of plastic bags in the hands of supermarkets and stores is ludicrous. They are the same entities that fought the proposed ban in the first place.

As long as plastic bags are available, most shoppers will not bring their own bags. Yes, I bring my own bags, but I had to make a concerted effort to make it a habit.

The goal of reducing plastic bag consumption by 65% (the equivalent of a D on a report card) by 2013 will not be met thanks to store clerks saying to customers, "Paper or plastic; we really encourage paper or bringing your own bag."

Maureen Discipulo

Redondo Beach

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