(AP) – With Los Angeles preparing to become the largest city in the nation to ban plastic grocery bags, a short history of the ubiquitous sack:
_ 1977, the plastic grocery bag is introduced to the supermarket industry as an alternative to paper bags. (Smaller plastic bags for grocery store produce had debuted in 1966.)
_ 1982, Kroger and Safeway begin using the modern-day polyethylene T-shirt-shaped bag.
_ 1996, about 80 percent of all grocery store bags are now plastic.
_ 2012, about 90 percent of all grocery store bags are now plastic.
_ About 100 billion bags a year are used throughout the world.
_ About 2.7 billion bags a year are used in Los Angeles.
_ A plastic bag weighing less than an ounce can carry up to 44 pounds.
_ Some of the ways plastic bags can be reused, as suggested by the plastic-bag industry: Carrying lunch, storing things, lining trash cans, cleaning up after pets, protecting valuables from rain and snow, keeping water and gas lines from freezing in winter, keeping clothing dry on boat trips, using as makeshift umbrellas, using again to carry groceries home from the store.
Sources: The trade group Society of the Plastic Industry and the city of Los Angeles.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)