July 16, 2011
The cities of Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel have all been toying with the idea of banning single-use plastic bags, the kind you get for your groceries at Safeway or CVS. But they've been waiting on a court decision about whether such bans are legal.
They got their answer Thursday, when the California Supreme Court ruled that cities don't need to do expensive environmental impact reports in order to 86 plastic bags.
The unanimous July 15 ruling in favor of the SoCal city of Manhattan Beach was a setback for the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which represents plastic bag manufacturers. The coalition that had argued that a plastic bag ban drives up the use of paper bags, which has a significant environmental impact.
The judges acknowledged that while paper bag use does carry some heavy environmental costs, there was "no evidence suggest[ing] that paper bag use by Manhattan Beach consumers in the wake of a plastic bag ban would contribute to those impacts in any significant way."
The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition's lawyer, Stephen Joseph, said his group will continue challenging California cities that adopt plastic bag bans.