Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Court of Appeals Upholds San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban

Court of Appeals Upholds San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban

A unanimous California Court of Appeal upheld San Francisco’s expanded plastic bag ban, marking the latest in a string of victories for local laws phasing out single-use plastic bags.

The lawsuit, brought by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, had disputed the procedures San Francisco used to expand its plastic bag ban in 2012 and the legality of banning plastic bags in restaurants. This is the first appellate court to consider the restaurant issue. Yesterday’s ruling sets the stage for more cities to adopt and strengthen local laws phasing out plastic bags.

Single-use plastic bags are one of the most common garbage items on beaches and in California's waters.

“This is a great victory for our oceans,” said Nathan Weaver with Environment California. “The court’s decision makes clear once again that our communities have the right to keep plastic out of the Pacific by banning plastic bags and encouraging reusable bag use." 

This decision is the latest in a series of failed legal challenges to plastic bag ordinances by the plastics industry and its allies. The California Supreme Court famously upheld the City of Manhattan Beach’s plastic bag ban in a unanimous 2011 ruling. The California Court of Appeal upheld Los Angeles County’s plastic bag ordinance earlier this year, rejecting a lawsuit filed by Hilex Poly Co. and its allies. Marin County’s plastic bag ban won decisively in the Court of Appeal this June. Lower courts have upheld plastic bag bans against CEQA challenges in San Francisco and San Luis Obispo County. Lawsuits against Long Beach, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, and Santa Cruz County have been settled on favorable terms leaving the local plastic bag ban in effect.

Single-use plastic bags are one of the most common garbage items on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy beach cleanup data. The bags are a threat to ocean wildlife, like the leatherback sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles studied had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, according to an analysis of 370 autopsies. So far, 90 California local governments have banned single-use plastic bags.

“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years,” commented Weaver.

The case is Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City and County of San Francisco, No. A137056.

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

Matthew Micah Wright / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Deborah Moore, Michael Simon and Darryl Knudsen

There's some good news amidst the grim global pandemic: At long last, the world's largest dam removal is finally happening.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Scrap metal is loaded into a shredder at a metal recycling facility on July 17, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Hunger strikers in Chicago are fighting the relocation of a metal shredding facility from a white North Side neighborhood to a predominantly Black and Latinx community on the Southeast Side already plagued by numerous polluting industries.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A new UK study links eating meat with increased risks for heart disease, diabetes and more. nata_zhekova / Getty Images

The World Health Organization has determined that red meat probably causes colorectal cancer in humans and that processed meat is carcinogenic to humans. But are there other health risks of meat consumption?

Read More Show Less
A common cuttlefish like this can pass the "marshmallow test." Hans Hillewaert / CC BY-SA 4.0

Cuttlefish, marine invertebrates related to squids and octopuses, can pass the so-called "marshmallow test," an experiment designed to test whether human children have the self-control to wait for a better reward.

Read More Show Less
Yogyakarta Bird Market, Central Java, Indonesia. Jorge Franganillo / CC BY 2.0

By John R. Platt

The straw-headed bulbul doesn't look like much.

It's less than a foot in length, with subdued brown-and-gold plumage, a black beak and beady red eyes. If you saw one sitting on a branch in front of you, you might not give it a second glance.

Read More Show Less