Groundbreaking Move to Reduce Plastic Pollution

 (February 17, 2022) – Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Krekorian, and Paul Koretz, along with Council President Nury Martinez, today led the City Council in a unanimous vote approving a landmark series of instructions that will move the City forward in a reduction of single-use plastics. 

“This is another decisive and progressive step taken by Los Angeles as we lead the way on environmental restoration, and we have set the stage for other municipalities to follow our lead,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, the chair of the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River (ECCEJR) Committee. “Today’s vote builds on several actions we have already taken - including reducing single-use foodware accessories, plastic straws on request, and reducing plastic bags - as well as our ongoing ‘LA100’ plan to achieve 100% carbon-free energy by 2035.” 

"The world is drowning in plastic pollution that is destroying the marine environment and fouling Los Angeles neighborhoods. For decades, the petrochemical industry has enriched itself at the expense of the planet by pushing single-use plastics,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “Here in Los Angeles we've taken many groundbreaking steps to fight this plastic addiction, but the problem cannot be solved by banning one particular item at a time. Today, for the first time, the City is moving forward with a comprehensive plan that will broadly address plastic waste across our economy, starting with our own city operations. Our work here should be a model for the rest of the nation." 

“We’ve been treating the whole planet for decades as a throwaway item,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, one of the principal authors of the comprehensive plastics legislation. “The reality

is there is no ‘away.’ We live on a tiny planet with limited resources and we need to behave as if we fully understand that fact. Today, with this legislation, we begin altering our daily habits toward a truly regenerative society.” 

“Today marks a major step forward–not only for our city’s environmental policies, but for the communities who have suffered the negative health impacts of living near landfills full of single-use plastics” said Council President Nury Martinez. “As always, I am proud to support initiatives that prioritize decreasing the burden on our frontline communities. As a city, we are moving towards a healthier and more sustainable future that will make life better for all Angelenos.” 

The Council’s action instructs LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) and other departments to report on strategies for implementing a phase-out of the purchase and use of single-use plastics at City facilities and City-sponsored events. The report is expected to be complete by Earth Day: April 22, 2022. 

“Many types of single-use plastics that we used to place in our blue bins can no longer be recycled, often ending up in the landfill,” said Barbara Romero, LASAN Director and General Manager. “LASAN is committed to providing strategies that will help empower all Angelenos to find responsible alternatives to using these plastics.” 

During the Council meeting, O’Farrell stressed the importance of involving all stakeholders, including small businesses and restaurants, in the process to phase out single-use plastics, emphasizing the goal of “creating the infrastructure necessary to build a holistic circular system, rather than a failing linear system” where items that are supposedly ‘recyclable’ are not recyclable at all. 

Local activists celebrated the news. The Reusable LA Coalition (RULA) said that it “commends the collaborative leadership between the ECCEJR Committee and LASAN on plastic pollution reduction and its serious focus on solving the City’s waste problems. The recommended policies outlined in the November 2021 report are far-reaching and comprehensive in scope. The policies outlined, particularly around source reduction and reusable foodware, will result in multifold benefits to both our environment and economy.” 

“Plastic production and pollution is environmental racism. The best way to fight plastic waste is by cutting production and ensuring it does not enter our environment in the first place,” said Andrea Leon-Grossmann, Climate Action Director for Azul. “The death cycle of plastic affects low-income people of color disproportionately. Los Angeles is taking the lead from getting oil drilling out of our neighborhoods to addressing plastic waste. I am encouraged that the Los Angeles City Council will continue to take steps to embrace a reusable and regenerative economy as a part of a comprehensive Green New Deal for Angelenos.” 

"The passage of this item by the Los Angeles City Council is an enormous win for all Angelenos and the environment,” said Newara Brosnan-Faltas, Los Angeles Chapter Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation. “Our water, beaches, and spaces will be much cleaner and healthier for

children, families and all peoples. Our city sets the tone for the rest of the state, country, and beyond. Surfrider is grateful to see the culmination of years of hard work from allies in the Reusable LA coalition come to fruition today.” 

“The 5 Gyres Institute commends the Los Angeles City Council for its leadership recognizing that plastic pollution harms our communities, environment and waterways, and taking legislative action to reduce plastic pollution at its source,” said Anna Cummins, Executive Director and Co-Founder of 5 Gyres Institute. “We believe that the proposed comprehensive single-use plastic reduction strategies will keep our neighborhoods healthier, divert zero-use plastics from the waste stream, and establish L.A. as an exemplary city paving the way to a true zero-waste circular economy.” 

To better inform Angelenos of important environmental news, as well as updates from the ECCEJR committee, O’Farrell has launched the “Greener L.A. Updates” electronic newsletter. Angelenos interested in receiving updates can subscribe at bit.ly/GreenerLAupdates.