The city of Manhattan Beach is free to impose a ban on plastic bags without requiring an environmental review of the impacts the California Supreme Court held Thursday.
It’s a matter of “commons sense” and “substantial evidence” that there would be no significant environmental effect from the ban, Justice Carol Corrigan wrote in the unanimous decision.
The ruling will be good news for other cities around the state that have imposed similar bans. San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Monica, Malibu, Long Beach and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County are among the local jurisdictions that have imposed bans.
A group of pastic bag manufacturers had opposed the ban and argued that switching to paper bags would actually increase the volume in land fills and require cutting trees.
The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition argued unsuccessfully that the California Environmental Quality Act required environmental review.
Manhattan Beach, a coastal city of 34,000, imposed the ban at the point of sale in retail businesses to reduce the use of plastic and its potential migration into the ocean.
The ordinance does not ban the use of plastic bags by residents but instead bans their distribution at the point of sale. It will affect 217 licensed retail businesses in the city, according to the court.
“Common sense leads us to the conclusion that the environmental impacts discernible from the ‘life cycles’ of plastic and paper bags are not significantly implicated by a plastic bag ban in Manhattan Beach,” Corrigan wrote.
The ruling overturns an earlier appeals court opinion that called for environmental review.
Case: Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach, S180720