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January 23, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Many more Californians would have to pay for paper or reusable plastic bags at the grocery store under a new agreement by key state lawmakers that would ban other plastic bags. After three unsuccessful attempts to outlaw single-use plastic grocery bags statewide, legislators announced a compromise Thursday that they said appears headed for passage. Their proposal would impose a 10-cent fee on alternative bags while banning single-use plastic bags. "This breaks a decade-long deadlock on a statewide solution," said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste.
January 6, 2014 | By Ted Rall
On New Year's Day, Los Angeles became the biggest city in the United State to ban plastic bags. Mayhem was anticipated. OK, not mayhem. Just extreme agitation. "If they don't give me a bag, what am I going to do?" The Times quoted an "incredulous" William Macary as saying at a Wal-Mart back in June. "If I pay money, I want a bag. " I feel for him. If I pay money, I want a pony. And a car. And those $350 Italian shirts I lust for when I go to Vegas. YEAR IN REVIEW: Ted Rall's five best cartoons of 2013 Believe it or not, plastic bags were originally introduced as the eco-friendly alternative to paper bags.
December 31, 2013 | By Catherine Saillant
For Los Angeles residents, the perfect holiday gift this year might have been a reusable grocery bag. On Wednesday, large grocery stores will be prohibited by law from providing free plastic bags. Shoppers will be required to bring their own bags when stocking up on food and goods, or pay 10 cents per paper bag provided by the grocery store. Smaller independent markets and liquor stores that sell groceries will become subject to the ban July 1. In backing the new law, Los Angeles City Council members cited concerns that the flimsy disposable bags often end up on city streets and eventually find their way to the ocean, where they threaten fish and wildlife.
December 29, 2013 | By Howard Blume
Some Los Angeles grocery store customers will have to adjust to a lifestyle change come Jan. 1, when a ban on plastic bags takes effect. As of Wednesday, the thin, seemingly ubiquitous carryalls will be illegal for all large grocers to distribute. Small markets must follow suit in July. Customers will have to bring their own bags, buy reusable ones or purchase paper bags for 10 cents apiece. When L.A. passed its plastic bag ban in June, it became the nation's largest city to take this step.
December 26, 2013 | By Louis Sahagun
Elizabeth Lopez maneuvered a massive steel claw over the side of a 134-foot sailboat and guided its descent through swaying kelp and schools of fish 10 miles off the coast of San Diego. She was hoping to catch pieces of a mysterious marine ecosystem that scientists are calling the plastisphere. This biological community starts with particles of degraded plastic no bigger than grains of salt. Bacteria take up residence on those tiny pieces of trash. Then single-celled animals feed on the bacteria, and larger predators feed on them.
December 22, 2013 | By James Barragan
Like millions of Americans, Jessica Hamilton of Pasadena will buy her friends and family a handful of gift cards this holiday season, drawn by their convenience. Yet Hamilton, who carries reusable bags when she goes shopping, is bothered by the thought of all of that plastic ending up in landfills along with worn-out hotel key cards, credit cards and the like. In 2012, the global card industry produced 33 billion cards, according to the International Card Manufacturers Assn. Most of those cards contained polyvinyl chloride, a plastic that contains pollutants that are harmful to the environment and is slow to decompose.
December 18, 2013 | By Henry Chu
LONDON -- Paper or plastic? No, not what kind of bag do you want your purchases in; it's what kind of money you'll use to pay for them, at least in Britain. The Bank of England announced Wednesday that, beginning in 2016, it will start issuing polymer banknotes -- in other words, plastic money -- in place of the paper kind. New five-pound bills put into circulation that year will not only feature a portrait of Winston Churchill but should be more resistant against wear and tear and unintended journeys through the washing machine.
December 17, 2013 | By David Lazarus
Rick went to the gas station the other day. He saw that there was one price for paying in cash, another for paying with plastic. And the plastic price was 10 cents a gallon higher. He wants to know: Is that legal? Sort of. ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions In California, merchants are prohibited from charging a premium for using a credit card. So that would make the higher gas price illegal. But there's a big, fat loophole in the law. Check out today's Ask Laz video to find out what it is. If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz .  
December 9, 2013 | By Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON - The Senate on Monday agreed to extend by another decade a ban on plastic guns that can evade traditional security screening, after an effort to include stronger limits was rejected. The renewed Undetectable Firearms Act, which is due to expire at midnight, now goes to President Obama for his signature. First passed in 1988 and signed by President Reagan, the law requires that plastic guns contain enough metal to set off a metal detector or appear in X-ray scanners.
December 1, 2013
Re "Hard data on plastic bags," Editorial, Nov. 27 The Times' suggestion of a study to determine the effects of plastic-bag bans on the municipalities in California that have passed them is an excellent idea. But let's make sure it is truly objective. The study should consider the overall life-cycle impacts of plastic versus reusable bags, including their impact on the environment, jobs and society in general. For example, will cases of salmonella and other food-borne diseases increase because of the greater use of reusable fabric bags?
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