Did you even know there was a group called the “Save the Plastic Bag Coalition?” Me either, but apparently it has challenged San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors’ decision to expand the plastic bag ban, arguing the city should have performed a thorough Environmental Impact Review before making such a decision.
This probably sounds ridiculous considering many people are well aware of the harmful impacts of plastic bags on the environment, but now the courts have to decide whether or not this case actually has merit.
Five years ago, San Francisco was the first city in the United States to pass a ban on plastic bags, but at the time, it only focused on large grocery stores and pharmacies. Since then, other California cities such as Los Angeles, Santa Crus, and San Jose have followed suit, putting forth similar policies and bans. Last month, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors expanded the ban to include restaurants and other smaller businesses, imposing a 10-cent fee for each bag handed out at checkout.
Not surprisingly, the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition consists of large plastic bag manufacturers, arguing plastic bags are less environmentally damaging than paper (Ha). They also included in their argument that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not performing an Environmental Impact Review before imposing the ban.
Los Angeles is in the clear because they performed an Environmental Impact Review. Fairfax cleared their name from the list of potential lawsuits as well, by using a vote on election ballots to initiate the ban. Manhattan Beach didn’t get so lucky and fell victim to a lawsuit as well, but the court ruled that small cities such as MB don’t need reviews and that larger cities are typically evaluated from a different angle. If the plastic bag stalwarts succeed in San Francisco, the entire ban could backfire.
Maybe if these plastic bag vendors spend their time and resources coming up with a more eco-friendly product, they wouldn’t be in jeopardy. Defending plastic bags makes about as much sense as if a beef manufacturer sued fast food chains for giving pink slime a bad name when they stopped using it. It’s obviously a harmful product, they’d just rather get their money and leave rather than attempting to create something that puts ethics, sustainability, and health first.
Hopefully, San Francisco will win this and help endanger the production of yet more plastic bags.