Jennie R. Romer, Atlantic region director of the Clean Seas Coalition and founder of plasticbaglaws.org, was recently interviewed in a Huffington Post article regarding a recent study by UPenn’s Institute for Law and Economics entitled “Grocery Bag Bans and Foodborne Illness.” The study related a spike in San Francisco hospital emergency room treatment due to E. coli infection to SF’s plastic bag ban. Romer insists that the study’s assertions are “completely ridiculous and unfounded.” Read the rest of this entry »
Using Categorical Exemptions for “Second Generation” Plastic Bag Bans in California: A Look at the Insightful San Luis Obispo County Ruling
In the wake of the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. Manhattan Beach Supreme Court decision that found that Manhattan Beach was justified in not preparing an EIR before adopting its ordinance, Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (SPBC) has seemed to have just enough wiggle room to keep many cities from moving forward with plastic bag ordinances (through threats of litigation) premised mostly on the vague language of a footnote in the Manhattan Beach decision that says “appropriately comprehensive environmental review will be required” for larger cities. The crux of SPBC’s argument under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was that plastic bag bans could have a significant negative impact on the environment because such bans could result in an increase of paper bag consumption. Read the rest of this entry »
The City of San Jose (CA)’s “Bring Your Own Bag” ordinance was implemented January, 1, 2012. With nearly one million residents, making San Jose the third largest city in California and tenth largest city in the U.S., many commentators viewed the City of San Jose’s ordinance as having the potential to significantly reduce plastic bag consumption. In a November 2012 memorandum, nearly one year after implementation of the ordinance, the City of San Jose demonstrates that the ordinance has already been successful in reducing plastic bag consumption as well as plastic bag litter. Specifically, the memo stated that “Numerous staff surveys, observations, and enforcement efforts demonstrate that the Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance has been successful at affecting community norms towards shopping with reusable bags and reducing single-use plastic bag litter in City creeks and streets.” Read the rest of this entry »
Plasticbaglaws.org seeks unpaid interns. Interns will be expected to commit to approximately five hours per week for at least five months. Interns should be detail-oriented and feel comfortable working independently.
Interns will be responsible for a variety of tasks, including:
- Drafting research memos regarding plastic bag ordinances
- Communicating with various municipalities and government agencies to procure documents
- Verifying the details of various ordinances
- Summarizing recent litigation involving plastic bags
- Writing guest blog posts
- Attending public hearings and meetings of stakeholder groups
Experience with HTML and database management strongly preferred.
Most work will be done remotely, but preference will be given to candidates in the NYC area that are currently enrolled in a degree program related to environmental law or policy.
To apply, please send a resume and a cover letter expressing your interest in the subject to jennie[at]plasticbaglaws.org.
Canadian Plastics Industry Groups Files Lawsuit Regarding Toronto’s Ban That’s Eerily Similar to SPBC’s Litigation Strategy in California
The next venue for plastic bag litigation appears to be Toronto, Canada. The Toronto City Council adopted a five-cent plastic bag charge in 2008, which was effective in reducing plastic bag use by 50% and increasing reusable bag use. In May 2012, the City Council adopted a plastic bag ban in response to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s call to abolish the five-cent charge. This adoption was done quickly, but relied on the voluminous study behind the original adoption of the 2008 charge.
Please join Jennie R. Romer, founder of plasticbaglaws.org & Atlantic region director of the Clean Seas Coalition, this Thursday at an ocean plastic pollution research event in NYC with 5 Gyres & Surfrider Foundation NYC. As part of their “5 Gyres Last Straw Plastic Pollution Bike Tour,” Stiv & Carolynn from 5 Gyres will be giving a great presentation on their work researching plastics in ocean gyres.
Court Upholds San Francisco’s Expanded Single-Use Bag Ordinance, Rejects Plastic Industry Group’s Lawsuit
San Francisco, September 13, 2012 – In an order issued yesterday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri L. Jackson rejected both of Save the Plastic Bag Coalition’s (SPBC) claims, which were brought under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Retail Food Code. Thus, the first phase of implementation of San Francisco’s ordinance – which includes a ban on non-compostable plastic carryout bags and a minimum 10-cent charge on paper and reusable carryout bags at all retailers – is set for October 1st. Read the rest of this entry »
Plastic bag recycling bills are a tricky subject. Plastic bag recycling sounds like a nice environmentally-friendly issue. However, it really has questionable, if any, environmental value and distracts people from a more straightforward goal – source reduction of plastic bags. More importantly, state plastic bag recycling bills often include language that preempts local jurisdictions from passing local ordinances relating to plastic bags. For example, in California AB 2449 preempts local municipalities from charging for plastic bags (hence the plethora of local plastic bag bans in California). Read the rest of this entry »
AB 298, the current statewide single-use bag bill, passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations by a 5-2 vote on 7/2/12. The momentum generated by the adoption of ordinances covering 50 local jurisdictions in California has definitely helped to make progressing with the statewide bill possible. As introduced by Assemblymember Julia Brownley last year, AB 298 addressed how to define reusable bags. However, the updated draft introduced on 6/18/12 added bag ban language as well as plastic bag recycling requirements.
As you may recall, a previous statewide single-use bag bill (AB 1998) failed by only a small margin in 2010. (Click here for details.)
Keep and eye on AB 298 and show your support.
Below is a summary of pending litigation in California involving single-use bag ordinances:
Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Carpinteria– The sole basis of SPBC’s suit is that Carpinteria’s ordinance is allegedly preempted by the California Retail Food Code because it includes restaurants. Carpinteria recently decided to settle the lawsuit with SPBC by removing restaurants and small retailers from the scope of the ordinance due to “uncertainties of litigation” and paying attorneys’ fees to SPBC. (See staff report and local news article.) This was very unfortunate, but the California Retail Food Code issue is still being litigated in San Francisco Superior Court.
Schmeer v. LA County – (Hilex Poly’s Prop 26 lawsuit) – Hilex Poly recently filed its appeal to the superior court decision in favor of the County. This appeal was expected and the appellate case will be briefed in the coming months. This was a test case for whether (and to what extent) Prop 26 regulates the paper bag charge included in second generation single-use bag ordinances. In March 2012, the Court ruled that the 10-cent charge on paper bags was not a tax under the California Constitution because the retailers keep all of the money collected pursuant to the ordinance, and even if the paper bag charge was a tax it would fall within the first exemption to Prop 26.
Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. Marin County – The appellate case has been fully briefed. This means that the court of appeal will soon decide the issue of whether it was appropriate for Marin County to use a categorical exemption (rather than an EIR or negative declaration) to adopt its second generation single-use bag ordinance (a ban on plastic and charge for paper). Marin prevailed at the superior court level. No hearing has been scheduled yet.
Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. San Luis Obispo Integrated Waste Management Authority – This case will also test whether a categorical exemption was sufficient under CEQA to adopt a second generation single-use bag ordinance. The hearing is set for March 22nd has been continued to a date TBA.
Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City and County of San Francisco – This is another test case as to whether a categorical exemption was sufficient under CEQA to adopt a second generation single-use bag ordinance. This case will also test SPBC’s state Retail Food Code preemption argument. SF prevailed on SPBC’s request for a preliminary injunction at a June 1st hearing. The ruling on SF’s Demurrer heard 6/28/12 is still pending. The hearing on the CEQA claim is scheduled for 8/27/12 at 9 a.m.