Sept 13 - SF Plastic Bag Ban Wins in Court

It’s another court victory for local bag bans.

Yesterday afternoon, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri L. Jackson delivered a verbal ruling in favor of the City and County of San Francisco and its plastic bag ordinance.

San Francisco was sued by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (STPBC) earlier this year for adopting its ordinance with a Categorical Exemption instead of conducting an Environmental Impact Report, and for including restaurants in the ordinance.

Judge Jackson rejected both arguments made by the STPBC lawyer, but agreed to hear a motion for a stay on the implementation of the ordinance pending appeal. The hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon.

The City’s groundbreaking bag ban was the first in the nation in 2007 and originally applied to large grocery stores and convenience stores only. This new ordinance would extend the ban to all retail stores starting October 1, 2012, and to all food vendors starting next July. Paper, compostable plastic, and reusable bags may be purchased.

Melanie Nutter, Director of San Francisco Department of the Environment, said in a press release,

"The continued use of plastic bags pollutes the environment and has been a hurdle for the City in reaching its goal of zero waste. Today we celebrate the court's decision supporting the City's approach to expand the checkout bag ordinance. This is a huge step forward toward reducing plastic bag use as well as all single use bags."

We applaud the City for taking a stand against the plastic bag industry's intimidation efforts, and celebrate with them in their victory.

This positive ruling follows similar wins for local bag ordinances in Manhattan Beach and Marin County and will be helpful for pending cases. STPBC recently filed a complaint against the City of Santa Cruz for its plastic bag ban. A ruling on the San Luis Obispo County's bag ordinance has yet to be decided, and the Marin County decision is being appealed.

*UPDATE* A request to delay the implementation date of 10/1/2012 (motion to stay) was denied on September 18.

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