LOS ANGELES — The County Board of Supervisors here was scheduled to vote yesterday on a proposal for the industry to voluntarily reduce plastic bag usage by 2010 or, if the reduction rate does not meet the benchmarks set by the board, to ban plastic carryout bags outright at large supermarkets and retail stores. At issue in yesterday’s debate was whether those benchmarks would call for a 30% reduction by 2010 and a 65% overall reduction by 2013 — which the California Grocers Association advocates, a spokesman told SN — or whether the county would seek higher benchmarks of 35% and 70%, respectively. The board said it would seek an outright ban on plastic bags if the minimums are not met. In a related move, the board also planned to seek state legislation that would lift an existing ban that prevents cities and counties from requiring supermarkets and other retailers to charge a per-bag fee for plastic bag usage. According to a spokeswoman for one of the supervisors, each resident of Los Angeles County uses an average of 600 plastic bags per year, which amounts to 6 billion used annually on a countywide basis, though only 5% are recycled, “and we intend to hold the industry accountable to achieve a significant reduction,” she told SN. The proposals here follow adoption of an ordinance last year banning distribution of non-biodegradable plastic bags in San Francisco.
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