Single-use plastic straws may join plastic bags in LA

An estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste pollutes the world’s oceans each year. (Courtesy Panorama Magazine)

In 2010, after falling in love with the LA River, I got worked up about plastic bags and was mostly happy to start carrying my own to the grocery store. There was a howl of protest as the plastic consumer noose tightened, first with California cities creating a patchwork of regulation, then counties, and finally voters approved a statewide ban in 2016. Now, if you want a bag at the store, it will cost you 10 cents. 

Back then, I wrote: 
As a fly fisherman, you know you’re sick and tired of seeing trash in the Glendale Narrows, especially after a storm. So it should be worth it to either take your friggin’ bags with you on grocery runs, or pony up the dime that grocery stores will be able to charge for green bags.

Next up, single-use plastic straws. Yesterday, the LA City Council voted 12-0 to move forward to ban them by 2021. Reversing the earlier governmental patchwork plastic bag trend, the city council action comes before a statewide ban goes into effect Jan. 1, one in which you’ll have to ask for that straw. In what could be a game changer, and will incur the wrath of the fast-food industry, the Los Angeles ban could include fast food outlets, which, incredibly, are currently exempted by the upcoming state law

Responding to pressure from a proposed European Union ban, McDonald’s has already tested paper straws in Great Britain and Belgium, according to the Business Insider.

Single-use plastic straws may be banned in LA. (Photo illustration courtesy of Panorama Magazine)

Then there’s the microplastics issue, in which fish digest small amounts of plastic that then never leave their bodies, causing a host of problems, including organ damage and reproduction. And, if you eat fish, you may also be eating plastics.

As a fly fisher who has walked our river in hope of a better future, I know we can do better.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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Quick Mends: State senate ponders plastic bag ban

The next FOLAR river cleanup is slated for Saturday, May 18.(Barbara Burns)

The next FOLAR river cleanup is slated for Saturday, May 18.(Barbara Burns)

UPDATE The new law goes into effect for large grocery chains and pharmacies beginning July 1, 2015. It will extend to convenience stores and liquor stores July 1, 2016.

Heartening news out of Sacramento, as the California Grocers Assn. announced support of a bill to nix single-use plastic bags in most grocery stores and pharmacies by 2015.

An initial hearing on  SB 405, penned by state senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee is set for tomorrow, the Los Angeles Times reports.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

MAY 30, 2013, UPDATE: “Senate Bill 405 failed to top the 21-vote threshold needed for passage, with senators voting in favor of the measure 18-17. Four senators did not cast votes. The bill will be allowed to be reconsidered, meaning it could be back before a Senate committee or the Senate floor.” — Waste & Recycling News