California Supreme Court upholds Marin County's ban on plastic bags enacted in January 2012 following appeal from Save the Plastic Bag Coalition
October 4, 2013
(San Francisco Chronicle)
– Plastic bag manufacturers lost another challenge to local ban-the-bag measures Wednesday when the state Supreme Court allowed Marin County to continue enforcing its restrictions at checkout counters in unincorporated areas.
The justices unanimously denied review of an appellate ruling upholding the Marin ordinance, which since January 2012 has prohibited single-use plastic bags and required a 5-cent fee for a paper bag. Similar measures have been adopted by about 50 cities and counties in California, including San Francisco and Alameda County.
The ordinances are aimed at reducing waste and water pollution from discarded plastic bags. Makers of the bags argue that the bans cause more environmental problems than they solve because paper bags take more energy to produce, leading to an increase in greenhouse gases, and also occupy more space in landfills.
But the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled in June that Marin County did not have to study the potential environmental impact before banning plastic bags.
Evidence supported the county's conclusion that the ordinance "will maintain, enhance and protect natural resources as well as the environment," so no review of possible ill effects was required, said Presiding Justice William McGuiness in the 3-0 ruling.
He said the ban affects only 40 retail stores, those outside city limits in the county. Any environmental impact of increased paper bag use at those stores would be "trivial," McGuiness said.
Earlier this year, state courts rejected the plastic bag industry's claim that the new fee for paper bags was a tax that required voter approval.
Wednesday's case is Save the Plastic Bag Coalition vs. Marin County, S212844.