Court Upholds SF’s Ban On Plastic Bags

A state appeals court has upheld a San Francisco law banning the use of non-compostable plastic bags at checkout stands in retail stores and grocery markets.

The 2012 law, an expansion of an earlier measure, prohibits most single-use plastic checkout bags and requires stores to charge 10 cents for paper or compostable plastic bags.

The ordinance was upheld Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeal in San Francisco. The court ruled on a challenge by the Los-Angeles-based Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a manufacturers’ association that has been battling plastic bag laws around the state.

Among other arguments, the coalition claims paper bags are a greater burden to the environment than their plastic counterparts.

Supporters of the bans contend the laws reduce litter, waste, pollution of waterways and harm to wildlife.

About 50 California cities and counties have versions of plastic bag bans. In the Bay Area, they include Alameda, Marin, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, San Jose and more than a dozen cities in San Mateo County.

In upholding the San Francisco law, the appeals court cited decisions by the California Supreme Court in 2011 and by a different appeals court panel in October that affirmed laws in Manhattan Beach and Marin County.

The court rejected the coalition’s arguments that San Francisco should have conducted an environmental impact study of its law and that the measure conflicted with state regulation of retail stores.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News