Los Angeles County this week gave preliminary approval to one of the nation's "most aggressive" bans yet on plastic shopping bags. The "bag ban" would force stores in unincorporated county land — not those in major cities — to switch to reusable bags. Environmentalists say that single-use sacks litter the streets — one L.A. supervisor called them "urban tumbleweed" — and wash into the ocean through storm drains. Opponents say the ban, which will take effect next July if it gets final approval, will hurt mom-and-pop grocery stores that can't afford to offer customers more expensive canvas totes. Is this nanny-state meddling, or an overdue victory for the environment? (Watch scenes from a rally against plastic bags)

It's is a big win for the planet: Los Angeles supervisors just struck a "significant" blow for the environment, says Brian Merchant at Treehugger. By banning plastic bags (except for sanitary reasons, such as bagging raw meat) and charging 10 cents for paper bags, the 1.1 million people in the areas affected by the law will have a compelling new reason to "start adopting reusable bags." Washington, D.C.'s five-cent tax on plastic bags got rid of tens of millions of bags a month. This will be even bigger.
"L.A. County passes biggest plastic bag ban in U.S."

This is just another way for politicians to pile on taxes: This is nothing but a "thinly veiled" tax, says the American Chemistry Council's Tim Shestek in a statement at PR Newswire. It will raise grocery costs without contributing a cent to programs to really help the environment. Increased recycling of the plastic bags would have been a better approach, and one that doesn't "require more bureaucracy."
"Opponents decry passage of Los Angeles County 'bag ban' ordinance"

Switching to reusable bags will be easy: An outright ban on plastic bans might be a bit excessive, say the editors of the Los Angeles Daily News. If some shoppers really want their plastic bags, they should be able to pay a fee and get them. But the chemical industry, which makes the nearly 20 million disposable bags Californians use every year, is exaggerating the effect on businesses and families. "If Ikea and Costco can teach consumers not to expect plastic bags, any retailer could."
"The march toward a statewide ban on single-use continues"