Los Angeles is becoming the nation's largest city to ban plastic bags at grocery stores in an increasingly widespread move to conserve the environment.

The City Council voted 13-1 Wednesday to approve a policy that would ban single-use plastic bags later this year after an environmental impact report is completed and an ordinance is adopted.

The program would be modeled after bag bans in 48 other California cities that aim to prod consumers into using reusable bags in order to prevent plastic litter that clogs waterways, swells landfills and clutters streets.

After the ordinance is adopted, the city will require large stores to phase out plastic bags over six months, then provide free paper bags for another six months. Small retailers would have a year to phase out plastic.

After a year, retailers would be allowed to charge 10 cents for paper bags. Residents receiving government assistance would be exempt from the bag fee.

Los Angeles, with nearly 4 million residents, will be the nation's largest city to ban carry-out plastic bags, said Enrique Zaldivar, director of the city's Bureau of Sanitation. The city uses 2.7 billion single-use bags a year.


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