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Los Angeles bans plastic bags in supermarkets

LOS ANGELES has become the largest city in the United States to ban the use of plastic bags in supermarkets.

The bags will be phased out at 7,500 shops over the next year in what environmentalists claimed as a major victory.

The city council voted in favour of the ban but backed away from a proposal to phase out paper bags as well. Customers will instead be charged 10 cents (6p) for each paper bag.

An estimated 2.3 billion single-use plastic bags are used and discarded in the city each year, according to one of the environmental groups that campaigned for the ban.

Ed Reyes, city council member, said the ban was "great for the environment, great for the future, and great for our beaches and our ocean. It's a win for everybody".

Actress and environmental activist Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is currently playing the role of vice-president in the hit US television comedy series "Veep," appeared before the council to speak in favour of the ban.

She described plastic bags as "hideously ugly, gigantically dangerous, and outrageously expensive."

Employees of plastic bag manufacturers protested against the ban, some wearing T-shirts saying "Don't Kill My Job".

Alejandro Ortega, who works for manufacturer Crown Poly, said: "My family depends on my job."

Several other cities in California, including San Francisco, have already adopted measures against plastic bags.

The state of California uses an estimated 12 billion plastic bags each year and less than 5 per cent are recycled