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Letter: How to finance alternative 20 for L.A. River

October 08, 2013

Re “Verdugo Wash support urged,” Sept. 29. According to a page on L.A. City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell's website, the cost to the cities to implement “alternative 20” would be close to $500 million.

So here's a suggestion as to how such municipalities might best finance that amount: Require the markets to pitch some of their excess banned-bag profits into the cause. The following example illustrates how it is being done elsewhere.

In 2010 Washington, D.C., became the first city in the nation to implement a five-cent charge for each disposable, recyclable paper or plastic bag at the point of purchase. The stores keep one to two cents of such fees and the remainder goes to a nearby Anacostia River Cleanup and Restoration Fund.

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Three months after the program began, stores were reporting a decrease in bag demand, plus there was a significant reduction in the plastic-bag component that makes up the trash pulled from the Anacostia River. Plus, in its first three years, the fund had already collected $3.1 million.

Some shoppers may forget to bring their previously purchased reusable bags with them. Under this revised system, they could choose to purchase, for example, four five-cent paper bags, with each one being (optionally) reinforced by a five-cent plastic bag, for a grand total of just 40 cents. This would cost them about one-tenth of the typical charges for another four reusable bags.

Harvey Pearson
Los Feliz

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