Bag Legislation – Fall 2013

States are continuing to consider strategies to reduce the number of plastic carry-out bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets. Some states are targeting paper bags as well.

On October 1st, California State Supreme Court denied a petition for review by attorney Stephen Joseph. Joseph, who represents the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, was attempting to overturn the ruling from the Court of Appeals regarding Marin County’s single-use plastic bag ordinance. In February of 2011, Joseph sued Marin County on the basis that it failed to comply with CEQA requirements by not preparing a full Environmental Impact Report at the time it adopted its ordinance. On September 27, 2011, California Superior Court Judge Duryee disagreed and upheld the ordinance. The coalition appealed the decision. In June of 2013, Justice William R. McGuiness affirmed the original ruling in the Court of Appeal, which upheld Marin’s ordinance. Joseph then filed the petition to review the decision in the state Supreme Court. In a final decision, the Supreme Court denied the request and added under case status: ‘case closed.’

Several plastic bag ordinances adopted by California communities earlier this year have recently taken effect.

  • Redwood City, which adopted the San Mateo model ordinance (banning on single-use plastic bags and allowing small charge for paper bags).
  • Cupertino passed a single-use bag ordinance in March. This ordinance bans distribution of single-use plastic bags at all retailers and allows a small charge for paper.
  • Dana Point adopted a single-use plastic bag ordinance in March, as well. The ordinance has already take effect for larger stores, but now will apply to all stores.
  • The final phase of San Francisco’s landmark, first in the nation plastic bag ordinance, is now in effect. It restricts the distribution of single-use plastic bags at all restaurants and requires the use of compostable plastic, paper or reusable bags.
  • East Palo Alto adopted a single-use plastic bag ordinance back in April is also effective

Currently, 6 states – California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington – are considering banning single-use plastic bags, with California’s proposed ban including paper and other single-use bags as well. Washington is considering legislation that would create rules for localities that choose to impose a ban or fee on plastic bags. Legislation in Arkansas and Florida to ban bags failed in 2013.

Eight states – Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – are considering a fee or tax on the distribution of bags which a shopper will have to pay, either directly or indirectly. Florida and Maryland proposed fee legislation, but the bills failed.

Make sure to keep checking our website for updates on single use bag legislation that is pending or being implemented. Our retail packaging specialists stay on top of the ever changing market conditions. Let us help you navigate bag legislation in the municipalities you sell into and select the best packaging for your stores. We hope that you will contact us by phone at 888-429-5673 or via email at baglaws@swalter.com.