Supreme Court Upholds Plastic Bag Ban. Again.

Environment California

by: Nathan Weaver, Environment California

Sacramento, CA – The California Supreme Court has denied an appeal challenging the Los Angeles County reusable bag ordinance, upholding the appellate court’s ruling in Los Angeles County’s favor. The lawsuit, brought by plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly Co. and named individuals, had sought to repeal the county’s 2010 plastic bag ban. A unanimous appellate court upheld the ban in March.

“This is a great victory for our oceans,” said Nathan Weaver with Environment California. “The Supreme Court’s decision makes clear once again that local communities have the right to keep plastic out of the Pacific by banning plastic bags
and encouraging reusable bag use.”

This decision is the latest in a series of failed legal challenges to plastic bag ban ordinances by plastic bag manufacturers and their allies. The California Supreme Court famously upheld the City of Manhattan Beach’s plastic bag ban in a unanimous 2011 ruling. Lower courts have upheld plastic bag bans in San Francisco, Marin County, San Luis Obispo County, and in a previous 2010 lawsuit against Los Angeles County.

Lawsuits against Long Beach, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, Carpinteria, and Santa Cruz County have been settled on favorable terms leaving the local plastic bag ban in effect.
Single-use plastic bags are one of the most common garbage items on California’s beaches according to the Los Angeles Times. They are a threat to ocean wildlife, like the leatherback sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles have plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, according to a 2009 study. More than 70 California local governments have banned single-use plastic bags in recent years.

“Banning plastic bags is the right policy for California,” commented Weaver. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years.”
The case is Schmeer v. County of Los Angeles, California Supreme Court file number S209633.

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