Sept 27 - Marin County Plastic Bag Ban Upheld

Marin County's ban of single use plastic grocery bags has been upheld.

In a final judgment today, Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee rejected a challenge by the plastic industry's attorney and upheld the County's plan to begin implementing the ban on January 1, 2012.

"With this ruling, the path is now clear for every city and county in the state to move forward with this thoughtful and balanced approach to reducing all single use grocery bags, while absolutely banning single use plastic," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of the environmental group Californians Against Waste (CAW).

CAW joined with Marin County (as a friend of the Court) in defending the County Ban, which also requires stores to charge consumers for the cost of paper bags (5 cents). Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court affirmed the right of Cities and Counties to ban single use plastic bags. In this latest challenge, the attorney on behalf of plastic bag producers tried a new argument--that local bans are pre-empted by state law, which the judge dismissed.

In her initial ruling, Judge Duryee said that Marin County and other coastal communities are especially vulnerable to impacts from plastic bags--which don’t break down, have virtually no recycling market, and negatively affect both the environment and the solid waste stream.

Judge Duryee found the ordinance "a reasonable legislative and regulatory choice" to protect the environment without causing a significant negative impact. She further found that the County, in passing the ordinance, had correctly determined the project to be exempt based on its actions to protect the environment and natural resources. Read more here and here.

Californians Against Waste submitted a "friend of the court" amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Marin County plastic bag ban. Earlier this year Attorney for Californians Against Waste successfully argued before the California State Supreme court in Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (STPBC) vs. City of Manhattan Beach in July. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Californians Against Waste and the Manhattan Beach bag ordinance.

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