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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
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.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
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.
SCIENCE
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.
BUSINESS
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.
WORLD
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.
BUSINESS
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 asklaz@latimes.com or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz .  
NEWS
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.
OPINION
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?
NEWS
November 19, 2013 | By Patt Morrison
Here's something to celebrate for New Year's Day 2013: The city of L.A.  is finally banning plastic bags . Goodbye, and high time too, to those wispy, blow-away plastic bags that wind up in all the wrong places, from treetops to sea turtles' bellies. Happily, the trope that is “paper or plastic?” will become as meaningless as “23 skidoo.” But dear city fathers (and our one city mother, there being only one female elected official in City Hall), can we please, please, not blow this fantastic marketing opportunity and wind up looking lame once again?
ENTERTAINMENT
November 19, 2013 | By Scott Collins
You didn't think you were going to get rid of Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt that easily, did you? After a few years of relative obscurity, the spotlight-loving couple, a.k.a. "Speidi," from MTV's reality soap "The Hills" are coming back for a one-hour special E! special, "After Shock: Heidi & Spencer," slated for Dec. 9. PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times According to the network, Montag will spill about her penchant for plastic surgery, which transformed her from an attractive girl-next-door type into something closer to a cartoon fantasy babe from a video game.
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