San Francisco plastic bag ban upheld

San Francisco plastic bag ban upheld

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Jan. 9, 2014

San Francisco's ban on single-use plastic bags has been upheld, roiling plastic bag manufacturers and bag ban opponents in the Golden State.

In a unanimous ruling reached in December and published late last week, California's 1st district court of appeals rejected a lawsuit arguing that San Francisco's bag ban had violated both environmental and health standards. The lawsuit was filed by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a group that has spearheaded a series of lawsuits targeting plastic bag bans in California, after a petition for a writ of mandate was denied by the superior court, the ruling states.

The suit argued San Francisco, one of the largest U.S. cities to have a plastic bag ban in effect, bypassed a state law requiring the City to conduct an environmental impact study when it enacted the legislation. The manufacture of paper bags, the lawsuit continued, used more energy than manufacturing plastic bags, thus producing more greenhouse gases. In addition, the lawsuit contended that banning plastic bags was in direct violation of state health codes.

The court sided with the City, proclaiming "we reject these contentions and affirm the judgment" of the superior court.

Stephen L. Joseph, who served as the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition's counsel, told Plastics Recycling Update the ruling would be appealed to the California Supreme Court. Joseph declined to make any further comment on the ruling or future plans for the group.

Citing landfill diversion goals, the city moved ahead in 2012 with an expansion of its plastic bag reduction efforts first started in 2007. The expanded effort banned the use of single-use checkout bags and brought on a 10 cent fee for recyclable plastic or paper bags.

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