An ordinance going into effect soon means that stores in the City of West Hollywood will no longer be able to provide single-use plastic bags at checkout. For larger stores (Trader Joe’s, Smart & Final, Target, etc.), this starts on February 20th. Smaller stores (under 10,000 square feet) will have an additional six months to comply. Stores in West Hollywood will be able to provide paper bags (made from at least 40% post-consumer recycled material), but they must charge ten cents for each bag. This charge for paper bags is retained by the store.
Similar ordinances are already in effect in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and some other cities in the county, including Santa Monica, Long Beach, Pasadena and others. One main difference between the West Hollywood ordinance and the County ordinance is that in West Hollywood it will apply to all retail stores, whereas in unincorporated L.A. County it only applies to stores that sell food or that have pharmacies.
The ban does not apply to the small plastic bags without handles used for raw meat and produce.
The City of Los Angeles is working on an ordinance on this matter, currently at the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) stage. If an ordinance is passed by June, it could go into effect starting in December. The L.A. ordinance is expected to be more like the L.A. County ordinance with regard to which stores are included.
So whether the store you are shopping at can provide single-use plastic bags (and not have to charge ten cents for paper bags) will depend on what city the store is in. For example, as of February 20th (until a City of L.A. ordinance is in effect) the ban will apply at Ralphs at Fountain and La Brea, but not at Ralphs at Third and La Brea. This detailed map of West Hollywood shows its boundaries. If you aren’t doing so already, get ready to bring your own shopping bags when you shop in West Hollywood.
The West Hollywood website has more information about the West Hollywood ordinance, including the reasons behind it. And for more information from L.A. County on this matter, go to AboutTheBag.com. (See the bottom of the FAQ page there for a list of cities that have similar ordinances.)