Plastic Bag Decision in Calif

The July 14 decision upheld a 2008 proposal to ban single use plastic bags in Manhattan Beach, in Los Angeles County, but more broadly, it addressed the “standing issue,” or which groups and people are allowed to use the state’s pre eminent environmental law.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, made up of about a dozen plastic bag manufacturers, distributors and retailers, had argued that the town’s ban would degrade the environment replica watches uk by forcing people to switch to paper bags, which they claim take more energy to produce than plastic bags.

In her opinion, Justice Carol Corrigan quickly dismissed the group’s arguments, finding that Manhattan Beach’s population of 34,000 is too small to r replica watches uk equire an analysis of the environmental effects of switching from plastic to paper, regardless of which material is more damaging.

But she also reversed previous policy on CEQA standing, rejecting a 2000 decision requiring corporations to routinely meet a higher standard than citizens. “Absent compelling policy reasons to the contrary, it would seem that corporate entities should be as free as natural persons to litigate in the public interest,” she wrote. “Corporate purposes are not necessarily antithetical to the public interest.”

Some groups had hoped the decision would be narrower, said Rick Frank, director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at the University of California, Davis.

“It basically said they would keep the courthouse door open to one and a replica watches uk ll,” Frank said. “Environmentalists and some business interests were hoping [the court] might construe it to be more limited.”

CEQA, which took effect in 1970, is broader than the federal National Environmental Policy Act, which passed in 1969. Under California law, any project that requires state or local approval must have an “environmental impact report” that analyzes effects and proposes alternatives or ways to mitigate the damage. NEPA applies only to projects that need federal agency approval or use federal funding.

The California law’s utility crosses political borders: While developers often decry environmentalists’ bringing suit under CEQA to block proposed projects for their impact on plants or animals, businesses or labo replica watches uk r unions can also wield it to enforce environmental laws against their competitors.

Until now, the most prominent case that determined who could bring suit under CEQA was Waste Management of Alameda County Inc. v. County of Alameda, which the state Court of Appeal decided in 2000. It ruled that Waste Management did not have standing to invoke CEQA against a competitor because it had argued from a commercial rather than an environmental standpoint. The decision set out a “zone of interests” that a plaintiff must fall into to bring suit.

Under last month’s decision, anyone can sue using CEQA plaintiffs do not have to be directly affected by a project’s environmental consequences.

Implications for other bag bans

The ruling on the bag ban is a rare one that pleased both sides. “We are delighted with the decision,” said Save the Plastic Bag Coalition counsel Stephen Joseph.

“[Environmental impact reports] bring in the science and say, ‘Right, do we have evidence of this claim?'” he said. “That’s all we want, informed decisionmaking.”

“We are ecstatic,” Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery said in a statement. The ban is set to go into effect in January 2012, following consultations with local businesses, City Manager David Carmany said.

Environmental groups are interpreting the ruling to mean that local governments, at least, can move forward with bans unimpeded. Corrigan wrote that a larger jurisdiction might trigger a different decision, saying that “the movement to ban plastic bags is a broad one, active at levels of government where an appropriately comprehensive environmental review will be required.”

In addition to Manhattan Beach, bans are pending in Monterey, Oakland, Sunnyvale and a half dozen other cities, according to the group Californians Against Waste (CAW). Long Beach just imposed its ban in large food stores yesterday (E PM, Aug. 1).

Given Corrigan’s nuanced decision, larger governments with pending bans like Alameda County and Santa Cruz County might be well advised to carry out an environmental impact report to forestall lawsuits, said Mark Murray, CAW’s executive director.

“I think it’s basically full steam ahead for local governments,” he said. Larger jurisdictions have been considering charging 5 to 25 cents on other single use bags to discourage wholesale switching to paper bags and their attendant environmental issues, he said.

“It’s probably fair to characterize the decision as implying that the plastic vs. paper debate is somewhat closer than some anti plastic folks have previously argued,” Frank said, “close enough that a full EIR might be required to address the issue in detail if a more populous jurisdiction were to adopt a plastic bag ban in the future.”

plastic bag debate

“Today, I cast my vote as mayor at the public works and infrastructure committee to make sure we put the final nail in the coffin of this plastic bag fee once and for all,” he told reporters.

The staff report offered four options on what to do with plastic shopping bags: no mandatory fee or ban, mandatory fee, mandatory ban, or an education and communication plan. It said the five cent fee had previously been “effective” and there was a 53 per cent reduction between 2008 and 2012.

An Ipsos Reid poll mentioned in the report found 36 per cent of residents wanted no further action on plastic bags, 44 per cent wanted a five cent fee, and 19 per cent wanted a ban.

Mr. Minnan Wong said he believed the public had had enough of the plastic bag debate.

“I think from that last debate the public was exceedingly frustrated and what they said is, ‘We don’t want to have this debate anymore. Let’s move on to some of the real issues and substantial issues that this city has to deal with.'”

Councillor Janet Davis said Wednesday’s result was “sad” because the committee voted to “completely abandon probably one of the most effective waste diversion strategies we’ve had.”

Mayor Ford said Torontonians pay enough in taxes and don’t need to replica watches uk be nickel and dimed every time they go to the grocery store.

He said the city has approved the first step in developing a plan to deal with solid waste replica watches uk for the next 30 to replica watches uk 50 years, and staff will create a comprehensive waste strategy replica watches uk over the next 12 months.

Plastic bag culture targeted with 5p charge

SCOTLAND’s replica watches uk “plastic bag culture” must end, the environment secretary warned yesterday, as Marks Spencer announced it will charge customers 5p for every food carrier given out by its stores.

Richard Lochhead will write to other shops and ask them what action they are taking to help meet the national target of reducing the overall impact of carrier bags by 25 per cent by the end of this year.

M said the 5p fee would apply only to its food carriers, 394 million of which were handed out last year. The charge aims to reduce demand, with all profits going to the environmental charity Groundwork for investment in green spaces. Dunoon and North Berwick are among places urging a change in the law that would let local councils ban distribution of carrier bags.

At Sainsbury’s, use of free disposable bags in the past six months fell by 10 per cent compared with a year earlier and take up of reusable bags rose by nea replica watches uk rly 50 per cent. Tesco has committed itself to reducing the use of free plastic bags by a quarter by the end of next year, but opposes a ban. The store said its plastic bags were degradable and began to rot down after a couple of months.

Carrier bags for non food M goods will not incur a charge under the plans unveiled yesterday. Some 170 million of these general merchandise bags were given out in 2007.

M will give all food customers free long lasting Bags for Life from early April for one month before the 5p charge starts on 6 May.

Mini food bags and horticultural bags will still be available free on request. Bags for Life will revert to their usual 10p cost from 6 May and will be replaced free of charge when worn out.

Yesterday’s M announcement follows a trial period of charging for food carrier bags in more than 50 of its stores, which saw customer demand drop by over 70 per cent.

Sir Stuart Rose, the M chief executive, said plastic bags could be phased out completely if customers wanted it.

“We want to make it easy for our customers to do their bit to help the environment and our trials have shown us that they want to take action,” he said.

“Just imagine if M customers right across the UK cut the number of food bags they use by 70 per cent that’s over 280 million bags they’d be saving every year.”

M food carriers are currently made from 20 per cent recycled plastic. That will be increased to 100 per cent from 6 May. Non food carrier bags are already made from 100 per cent recycled waste material.

GOAL OF CUTTING BAG USE BY 25% STILL A LONG WAY OFF

PLASTIC bag use in Britain was reduced by 8 per cent from 2006 to 2007.

But this is still way off the UK target of reducing the overall impact of carrier bags by 25 per cent by the end of the year, and almost one billion bags replica watches uk were issued in Scotland in the past 12 months.

Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs secretary, said: “Reducing the unnecessary use of plastic bags is crucial if we are going to achieve a zero waste society in Scotland. Some progress has been made, but more needs to be done. UK retailers need to do much more to reduce the use and impact of plastic bags.

“I will be writing to Scottish retailers to ask precisely what action they are taking to deliver the target of a 25 per cent reduction in the impact of carrier bags by the end of the year.”

His comments were welcomed by the environmental group WWF Scotland. But its director, Dr Dan Barlow, said more retailers must restrict use of plastic bags.

“Unless other retailers follow suit and step up their efforts, we will urge the Scottish Government to bring forward mandatory measures to cut plastic bag use in Scotland.”

What the shoppers have to say

Dorothy McIntyre, 83, of Brunstane, Edinburgh: “I don’t mind M bringing in the 5p charge but they should stop providing plastic bags altogether. They take too long to deteriorate and end up in landfills, so it can only be a good thing to do something drastic like this.

“I nearly always use my own shopping bag but sometimes you buy something you didn’t expect to buy and then you end up taking the shop’s bag. Maybe this will encourage people to carry plastic bags.”

Heather Couston, 48, of Broxburn, West Lothian: “I wouldn’t pay 5p for a plastic bag so it will make me carry my own bags with me. I think if people have to pay it will encourage them to carry a spare one.

“My mother always used to use real shopping bags, which I think makes me associate something that is actually very “green” nowadays with little old ladies. It is only right that we should be mor replica watches uk e aware of environmental issues and if people need hit in the pocket to make it work, that’s OK.”

Sarah Furniss , 16, pupil at James Gillespie’s High School, Edinburgh: “Charging 5p a bag sounds fine to me it’s not as if M are going to keep the money for themselves. It might make people use fewer plastic bags and put more stuff into the ones they have.”

Lynn Searl, 16, pupil at James Gillespie’s High School, Edinburgh: “Everyone needs to invest in a big handbag style bag they can put lots of things in. But they won’t, so charging will maybe make them think twice about taking plastic bags. Eventually they’ll get fed up paying and start using some other sort of bag instead. “