LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles shoppers soon won't hear the question, "Paper or plastic?" at the checkout line.
The City Council voted Tuesday to ban plastic shopping bags from stores, beginning July 1, 2010. Shoppers can either bring their own bags or pay 25 cents for a paper or biodegradable bag.
The council's unanimous vote also puts pressure on the state, which is considering an Assembly bill that would impose bag recycling requirements on stores. City officials said their ban would not be implemented if the state passes the bill and requires at least a 25-cent charge per bag.
"We've gotten to a point where we need to act as a city, where we can have real results," said Councilman Ed Reyes, who proposed the bag ban. "We're trying to do it in a way where we can educate and inform the public of what we're doing."
Reyes said the ban will minimize cleanup costs for the city and reduce trash that collects in storm drains and the Los Angeles River. The city estimates more than 2 billion plastic bags are used each year in Los Angeles. About 5 percent of plastic bags and 21 percent of paper bags are recycled in California.
Banning plastic bags will not solve the litter problem, said an attorney who opposes the regulation of plastic bags.
"We've had enough of politicians accepting the misinformation that's spread around the Internet about plastic bags," said Stephen Joseph of the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which represents bag manufacturers.
Joseph said the city motion gives "a free pass" to paper bags, which he argued are biodegradable but consume more materials and natural resources to make.
Three percent of the bag fee will be returned to the retailer, 3 percent will go to the state, and the rest will go back to the city to fund an education campaign.
Last year, San Francisco passed the nation's first bag ban, which took effect in November.