Plastics Industry Groups Are Fighting to Preempt Local Plastic Bag Laws All Over the Country, The Industry Lost in Georgia Last Week

Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Missouri all have bills introduced this session that would preclude cities and local agencies from taking action on local issues – including plastic bag ordinances. This tactic of state law preemption to prevent local plastic bag ordinances is far from new.

In fact, in California, the main reason why cities ended up moving forward with bans on thin plastic bags (and charges for paper and reusable bags) rather than fees on all carryout bags is that preemption of local plastic bags fees (but not bans) was snuck into a 2006 statewide plastic bag recycling law (AB 2449, click here for the full story).

In Florida in 2008, a state law was adopted that required the Department of Environmental Protection to submit a report to the state Legislature regarding regulation of bags and no local government could enact any regulation on the use of disposable plastic bags until the Legislature acted on the report. The Retail Bags Report was submitted in 2010 and no action has been taken to date, which means that local bag laws are preempted in Florida.

In Illinois in 2012, a plastic bag ban preemption law passed both houses but was vetoed by the Governor only after Abby Goldberg, 13, penned a petition on that gathered 173,000 signatures.

Last week, on March 27, 2015, the Georgia House heard Senate Bill 139 and the bill was defeated by a solid 85 to 67 margin. The official bill summary reads:

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 1 of Title 10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to selling and other trade practices, so as to provide that any regulation regarding the use, disposition, or sale or any imposition of any prohibition, restriction, fee imposition, or taxation of auxiliary containers shall be done only by general law; to provide for legislative findings; to provide for a definition; to provide for related matters; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

The Georgia vote is one small victory in the plastics industry’s (which is funded by the petroleum industry) fight to stop plastic bag laws. Preemption bills are happening elsewhere and are likely to spread but this win shows that grassroots advocates are prepared to stand up to the petroleum industry’s well-funded lobbying efforts.

The Village of Hastings-on-Hudson Sued By Grocer’s Industry Group Over Bag Ban, Court Opinion Expected Soon

The Village of Hastings-on-Hudson was sued in October 2014 over the plastic bag ban that they had adopted in June of that year. The main claim in the lawsuit relates to the Village banning plastic bags but not addressing paper bags, which the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, Inc. (FIA) claims requires full EIS review under New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) because they claim that an increase in the use of paper bags could have a greater negative impact on the environment.

All lawsuit documents have been filed and no hearing is scheduled. The Judge is expected to make a ruling based solely on the papers filed soon. Click here to view the The Village of Hastings-on-Hudson official lawsuit documents.

This lawsuit was expected and is very similar to tactics used by plastics industry and grocer groups in California (click here for a short history of what happened in California).

For a more detailed history of similar tactics used all over the US and how ordinance structures have evolved, see this law journal article.




NYC City Council committee hears plastic bag bill Wednesday, law journal article about NYC bag bill now available

This Wednesday (Nov 19th) at 1:00pm, the New York City Council’s Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will hear the bill to put a 10-cent charge on carryout bags at all stores in NYC.   This is the only opportunity for members of the public to comment on the legislation.  There will also be a press conference and rally right before the hearing at noon on City Hall steps. Read the rest of this entry »

NYC Bring Your Own Bag Week is Sept 15-21

Do you live in New York City? Then you’ve seen plastic bags blowing through traffic, stuck in trees and clogging our sewers. If you’ve had enough of the litter and waste, you’re on the right track.  If you don’t think these bags are a problem, think again.

Sept 15th-21st we challenge NYC to #BYOBag!

Read the rest of this entry »

California’s Statewide Bag Bill Clears the Assembly, Heads to the Senate

California’s statewide bag bill SB 270 cleared the Assembly today and heads to the Senate.  After 12 attempts at statewide bag legislation over 6 years, California could be set for a bag ban statewide.

If you live in California and are supportive of this bill, please call your state Senator TODAY (the vote could be today).  Find your Senator’s contact information here.




Aspen, CO Win’s Lawsuit Defending Their Carryout Bag Ordinance

The City of Aspen, CO adopted a local law placing a fee on carryout bags in 2011.  The ordinance  bans single-use plastic bags in Aspen’s grocery stores and imposes a $0.20 fee per paper bag used by most shoppers in Aspen’s grocery stores and was meant as an environmental and public health protection measure to incentivize shoppers to use reusable bags in order to reduce the environmental impacts and waste generated by single-use paper and plastic bags. Read the rest of this entry »

California’s Statewide Bag Bill (SB 270) Passes Appropriations Committee and Heads to a Vote on the Assembly Floor

California’s statewide bag bill (SB 270) would ban thin plastic carryout bags and mandate that retailers charge at least 10 cents for all other carryout bags.  SB 270 passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday.  The bill now heads to the Assembly floor for vote. Read the rest of this entry »

How Much Should A Carryout Bag Cost?

What should the minimum charge for a paper (or reusable) carryout bag be?  That’s a popular question among cities developing plastic bag reduction ordinances.
Read the rest of this entry »

Press Conference For the Re-Introduction of NYC’s Single-Use Bag Bill on Wednesday at 11am

The press conference will be on Wednesday, March 26th at 11:00am on the steps of City Hall.

Click here to RSVP to the Facebook invite.

Click here to read a NY Post article about the bill.

S.T.O.P. Bags Student Conference in NYC This Saturday

The Hewitt School and Green Schools Alliance are hosting a city-wide conference this Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 10am to 2pm at The Hewitt School, 45 East 75th Street, NYC.

The conference is open to all NYC middle and high school students, called Students Take On Plastic Bags (S.T.O.P. Bags). This unique student-led conference will feature a keynote address by Ron Gonen, NYC Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability.

The conference will also feature Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, as a special speaker and guest judge. Additional judges include:

– Lisa Bloodgood (Community Liaison & Environmental Advisor for CM Stephen Levin, Dist. 33)
– Eric Goldstein (Natural Resources Defense Council)
– Ya-Ting Liu (NY League of Conservation Voters)
– Saleen Shah (Citizens Committee for NYC)

Special mentor/student “coaching” sessions will be offered by noted environmental advocates for all student attendees. Some of these “coaches” include:

– Lily Belanger (Program Director, No Impact Project)
– Jordan Christensen (Citizens Campaign for the Environment)
– Tim Clare (Surfrider Foundation)
– Ashel Eldridge (environmental educator and entertainer)
– Gala Narezo (Activist and Plastic Bag Mandela Artist)
– Veronique Pittman (Green Schools Alliance)
– Eadaoin Quinn (Education Coordinator for SIMS Municipal Recycling)
– Jennie Romer (environmental lawyer and founder of
– Leslie Mintz Tamminen (Ocean Program Director, 7th Generation Advisors)
– Logan Welde (Staff Attorney, Clean Air Council of Philadelphia)

The conference seeks to empower middle and high school students on how to speak with their respective council member and how to testify before city council about the upcoming plastic bag legislation. The conference will conclude with a student competition for the best one-minute testimonial/presentation, and a performance of “Plastic State of Mind” by educator, rapper, emcee, producer, and founder of Earth Amplified, Ash-El Eldridge.

Click here for more information and to register.

Click here for the press release.