The recently-announced planned ban on plastic shopping bags in Los Angeles is a landmark decision for the bag’s opponents. With Wednesday's decision, L.A. becomes the largest U.S. city -- and just the latest in a growing number of metropolitan areas worldwide -- that are either banning or taxing the use of plastic bags.
The ripple effect of this news is being felt across a wide spectrum of industries.
Plastic bag manufacturers are still working out their collective response. “Understanding and conveying the business impact is a little premature,” said Donna Dempsey, spokesperson for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a group representing the five largest plastic bag manufacturers in the U.S. and about 4,700 workers nationwide.
The alliance estimates that more than 30,000 American manufacturing jobs in 349 plants could be affected by proposed ordinances to ban and tax plastic bags. APBA also notes the U.S. is the world leader in recycling plastic bags and film – which in turn fuels green technologies and jobs.
Some retailers have already made preparations when it comes to a future with fewer plastic shopping bags.
Kroger, one of the nation's largest grocery retailers, reportedly saved more than 159 million plastic bags in 2010. “The Kroger family of stores is in a unique position to help customers reduce plastic bag use and transition to reusable bags,” said Keith Dailey, the company’s director of external corporate communications, in an email to GreenBiz.
“In fact, our goal is to save a billion bags by 2014," Dailey said. "We plan to achieve this goal through associate education, new parking lot signage, and changing customer habits.“
Dailey says Kroger and its “family of stores” -- including Ralphs, King Soopers, QFC and other supermarkets -- have reduced plastic bag usage by offering an array of reusable bags. And the company’s report on sustainability says that last year Kroger retailers sold and provided over five million reusable bags— an average of 14,000 reusable shopping bags per day, the report estimates.
Next page: Changes for the paper bag industry?