The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach that cities have the right to ban plastic bags and that a full-scale environmental review process is not always required to prohibit stores from giving the bags to their customers. The ruling overturned two lower court decisions and upheld a 2008 ban by Manhattan Beach. Since Manhattan Beach’s ban, many other California cities have followed suit or are in conversations to do so.
The court’s decision stated that a full scale CEQA review in the case of Manhattan Beach is not necessary. In relation to how the Manhattan Beach ban relates to a larger ban across the state, the ruling says, “The city properly concluded that a ban on plastic bags in Manhattan Beach would have only a minuscule contributive effect on the broader environmental impacts detailed in the paper bag “life cycle” studies relied on by plaintiff.” While the court did rule in favor of Manhattan Beach, the language left open the possibility for CEQA reviews in bans by larger municipalities.