May 30 - Plastic Bag Group Drops Lawsuit on Santa Cruz Bag Ban (Press Release)

For Immediate Release

Contact: Mark Murray, Californians Against Waste (916) 443-5422

As California's statewide bag ban moves closer to passage, the action at the local level is also gaining momentum. The City of Chico adopted the latest local ban last week--the first in Butte County and #108 in the state. And earlier this month, the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a group of plastic bag interests that has notoriously sued local governments to delay bag bans, officially dropped what appears to be its last remaining lawsuit. The complaint against Santa Cruz County's bag ban was originally scheduled for a May 29 meeting, but the Coalition filed a request to dismiss the complaint.

Over the years, the Coalition has challenged nearly a dozen cities or counties (and threatened to sue many more) for banning plastic bags without conducting environmental impact reports (EIRs), or for banning bags in restaurants. The Courts have recently and consistently shut down their arguments.

In 2011, the California State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Manhattan Beach for adopting a local bag ban without an EIR. The Supreme Court also rejected petitions to review lower court rulings in favor of Marin County and San Francisco's bag bans. San Francisco's bag ordinance was passed without an EIR, and includes restaurants.

Santa Cruz County adopted an ordinance extending its bag ban to restaurants in September of 2012, and the Coalition filed a complaint that October. More than a year and a half later, and after positive rulings on San Francisco's restaurant ban in the lower courts followed by the State Supreme Court's decision to uphold the ban last month, the Coalition has now dropped the lawsuit against Santa Cruz County. Visit the County Court page for access to the records and learn more about past complaints and decisions on local bag bans.

According to Californians Against Waste, an environmental organization that has spent the last decade working on the issue at the state and local level, this was the last known pending lawsuit from the Coalition on a local bag ban. "There is no reason for local governments to hesitate to join the 108 California Cities or Counties that have voted to reduce plastic pollution in their communities by banning plastic grocery bags," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of the Sacramento-based group.

Under SB 270, the state bag bill, local ordinances adopted before September 1 of this year (with some exceptions for extensions) will be grandfathered in. The bill is currently in the Assembly Appropriations committee.