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MAP: California may join Southern California 'green' cities by banning plastic bags

Plastic bags have become a major pollutant around the world.
Cate Gillon/Getty Images
Plastic bags have become a major pollutant around the world.

West Hollywood recently joined the ranks of Long Beach, Santa Monica and other cities around Southern California that are banning plastic bags at the check-out register.

While efforts to ban the bags statewide have failed numerous times over the past decade, it has once again been proposed in California's legislature. In the meantime, at least 10 Southland municipalities have approved local ordinances regulating plastic bags.

The map below lists areas in Southern California that have started or will start banning single-use plastic bags. No communities in San Bernardino or Riverside counties have passed a plastic bag ordinance. Click on each shaded area to read more about that municipalities' ordinance:

All stores Large stores only Ban coming soon

Source: Various municipalities

Aiming to cut landfill waste, pollution and protectc the environment, Malibu became the first Southern California city to ban single-use plastic bags in 2009. Since then, the restrictions have spread from Ventura County's Ojai to coastal cities like Laguna Beach  and Manhattan Beach , to Los Angeles County's unincorporated areas  including Marina del Rey, East L.A. and Hacienda Heights.

As for the city of Los Angeles, last May it began the process of implementing a ban by ordering an environmental review. The draft environmental impact report is now out for public comment. You can read it below.

Three more public comment meetings are scheduled: Feb. 26 at Shadow Ranch Recreation Center in Canoga Park; Feb. 27 at South LA Sports Activity Center; and Feb. 28 at Lou Costello Recreation Center. All meetings start at 5:30 p.m. Written comments can also be sent to the city Bureau of Sanitation's division manager, Karen Coca  by March 11.

If approved, L.A. would become the largest city in the U.S. to ban plastic bags.

Here's the bottom line for shoppers in areas where bans are in effect: Bring reusable bags to any store that sells food or you'll probably have to pay for each paper bag, usually $ . 10 cents. Bakeries, convenience stores and gas stations are included, but restaurants and food trucks are not. Plastic product bags for your vegetables and meats may still be provided.

Specific rules and enforcement vary among each jurisdiction, so be sure to check with your local city. Laguna Beach, Santa Monica and Malibu , for example, have banned plastic carry-out bags at clothing stores as well.

Those who qualify for food stamps, like the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), do not have to pay for the paper bags.

Most cities, including West Hollywood, are putting the ban into effect in two phases – first, at large grocery stores and then, six months later, at smaller shops.

Up next are Glendale  and Dana Point . Both cities have approved bans that are slated to go into effect by the end of the year. Shoppers in Dana Point, however, will not have to pay for paper bags.

Other municipalities like Irvine , Culver City  and Huntington Beach  are studying bans as well. As for a statewide ban,  State Senator Alex Padilla  (D-Pacoima) and  State Assemblyman Marc Levine  (D-San Rafael) have introduced bills in both the state Senate and the Assembly.