Grocery bag ban heads to court

October 4, 2011

The debate over banning paper and plastic grocery bags took a predictable turn Monday with the filing of a lawsuit challenging the new Los Angeles County ban. [Fox & Hounds]

The lawsuit was filed by Neilsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Gross & Leoni on behalf of plastics manufacturer Hilex-Poly and individuals who have purchased the bags.

The ordinance in question prohibits providing customers plastic carryout bags in the unincorporated areas of LA County. Under the ordinance, stores that provide recyclable paper carryout bags to customers charge 10-cents for each bag provided by the store. The suit charges that the 10-cent charge for using paper bags is a violation of Proposition 26, which requires that a fee cover only the cost of a service. “The county is requiring a 10-cent charge for a bag that stores used to give away for free,” said attorney Steve Merksamer who represents Hilex-Poly.

A similar law is being pushed for San Luis Obispo County.

Attorneys contend the new ban violates Proposition 26, passed by voters in the November 2010 election,  intended to stop hidden taxes by setting standards to prevent taxes from being disguised as fees.

Merksamer said the county thinks it insulated itself from the Prop 26 provisions because the retail stores collect the fee rather than a government entity. However, he says the ordinance requires the retailer to keep the money and do with it what the government tells it to do.

In addition, stores must report to the County on a quarterly basis the total number of recyclable paper bags provided and monies collected, as well as efforts undertaken to promote reuse and recycling.

In effect, the retailer is acting as a surrogate for the government. LA County is using the retailers to promote its recycling program.

There is a precedent setting nature to this lawsuit. At issue: Can businesses be required to collect monies and spend them on programs advocated by the government that requires the charge? Is that not another way to tax?

If the measure is indeed a tax for a specific purpose, it would require a two-thirds vote of the people under the law.













  1. stopagenda21 says:

    This is just the tip of the iceberg

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. r0y says:

    Well, while I still can, I loudly answer “PLASTIC, MY GOOD MAN!” when the kid asks, “Paper or plastic?”

    OK, maybe not so dramatically, but you get the idea.

    I still want to see biodegradable plastic bags. They exist, if we truly cared about the environment (and not about control) we’d just start demanding those. Customers demand them from retailers. No government needed! But we are phony. As fake as the occupy space protesters.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      I agree with your last paragraph. I don’t get it and does make me wonder if there is a political aspect to this. But that being said, political or not, plastic bags are bad for the environment so although the way they are doing it might be wrong or political, it still needs to be done.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. Maxfusion says:

    Let’s focus on grocery bags while a cabal of thieves loots the treasury and bankrupts the country. Let’s focus on grocery bags while an invasion from the south that fills a vacuum left by worthless, publicly “educated” cretins who can’t put a nut on a bolt, and live with mommy and daddy through their late twenties. Let’s focus on grocery bags while an economy once the envy of the world is destroyed by regulation obsessed, overpaid, bureaucrats getting wealthy on your dime. Hey, so what if our educational system drops from first to forty sixth in academic standing, we’ve got bags that make us feeeel good.

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
    • zaphod says:

      Un regulated capitalism ate our economy systematically

      (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
      • Maxfusion says:

        No, loose money and easy credit ate our economy, and all in the names of feeeelings and fairness. Do your homework and see which administration fueled the lending crisis. Hint: he did odd things with cigars.

        (-2) 14 Total Votes - 6 up - 8 down
        • Cindy says:

          Max, that statement is pure bullshit. Try 8 years of “W” ……

          (-2) 14 Total Votes - 6 up - 8 down
          • r0y says:

            While I regret 8 years of “W” Max is correct, in part. Most of the housing debacle was begun under Clinton, specifically the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act – which was bi-partisan in Congress, and signed into law by Bill Clinton.

            That is one of the big ones. I personally believe that our economy was eaten by FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society. Depends how far back from the problem one is willing to step… heck, we could go back to 1913 and Wilson’s allowance of fractional reserve banking if we really wanted to demonstrate problems in the system.

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  4. easymoney says:

    A lot of us already use our own tyvec or cloth bags…
    And IMHO, there should be 100% compliance with recycling plastics, glass and newsprint. They remake all of those products into new material. There is no excuse for not putting everything into the bin. Besides it creates work for lots of people…

    (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
    • Cindy says:

      I use cloth bags too but I don’t always remember to put them back into my car so about 25% of the time, I don’t have them when I decide to stop for groceries. Also, I never put meat into them, I always put meat or fish in a plastic carry out bag because if it leaks it will contaminate my bag and my fresh produce. TQ insists that the bags are not recycled but I return mine to the grocery store and if they don’t send the bags out to a recycle plant, then why do they have a recycle bin specifically for the bags?

      (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
      • maybe not says:

        They do it to make us feel good (and meet the requirements of the law.)

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        You must be referring to the time that you told me that you put your plastic bags in your recycle bin at home and I explained that you’re not supposed to put those bags in your recycle bin. We were talking about curbside not the market. You got mad at me because you told me that you were allowed to recycle your bags curbside and I said that you were wrong.

        Although I have heard that the bags at the store don’t usually get recycled. If true I’m not sure why they don’t, but I don’t know that to be a fact.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  5. panflash says:

    Amen, BTDT. Except for all the unfortunate typos, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Yea I need to slow down on typing.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  6. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I HATE lawsuits BUT in this case I hope they win!!!! I am SICK and tired of NANNY Gov’t. telling me everything I need to do in my everyday life!!!! Get the F**K off my back!!!!

    I have no problem with recycling. I recycle ALL of our plastic bags. I put out a full container each week at the curb of recycle material (cardbord, mags. newspaper etc.) I find the majority do. We are going after a minority of people here and making the majority pay the price. There has to be other ways other than having the Gov’t. constantly writing laws that are RIDICULAS!!! Enough already.

    We are going broke, we have trade deficiets and we are talking about plastic bags?? No wonder why we are going over a cliff. Enough micro managing of the American people trying to find this 60’s zen Utopia B.S. that doesn’t exist!!!

    (11) 27 Total Votes - 19 up - 8 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      I hope you’re not putting those bags in your recycle container, they don’t recycle them.

      ‘Nanny Gov’t’. {giggle} I can’t help but laugh at how all of you use the those same silly terms. It would be so much more effective if you could be a bit more original.

      I’ve already argued this point so I”m not going to go over it all again. I’m all for it.

      (-9) 23 Total Votes - 7 up - 16 down
      • BeenThereDoneThat says:

        No, when I say recycle (plastic bags) I mean I use them like a lot of people do. I save and use for trashbags in bathroom waste baskets, use to pickup animal droppings and for other uses around the house. I have a HUGE supply as I do not throw them out unless they are torn.

        As for your comment about silly terms PLEASE I hear the same from both left and right in using different terms of things. Please save your silly arguements and hypocracy for others.

        (5) 19 Total Votes - 12 up - 7 down
        • dhg says:

          BTDT – I couldn’t agree with you more.

          (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
        • sloslo says:

          You certainly have a very liberal definition of “recycling ALL plastic bags”.

          First you claim “I recycle ALL of our plastic bags.”

          and later you admit “I do not throw them out unless they are torn”

          So you actually don’t recycle ALL of your plastic bags – you throw the torn ones out right away instead of actually recycling them.

          And then you also admit “when I say recycle (plastic bags) I mean I use them like a lot of people do” so you don’t actually recycle ANY of them.

          Recycling means reprocessing them so they can be reconstituted into new bags, not using them once and then sending them to the landfill.

          (0) 14 Total Votes - 7 up - 7 down
          • Cindy says:

            If BTDT is using them in place of the plastic trash bag liner’s that are used in bathrooms or in place of a plastic doggie pooper scooper bag, then he is reusing them and to reuse an item that is normally thrown away is to recycle it. I also use those bags in a similar fashion rather than use heavier plastic bags that take longer to break down in the landfills. I also accumulate excess quantities of them and drop them off at the grocery store recycle bin.

            The way they have gone about implementing this law is stupid, stupid and stupid. They will now replace these bags with larger heavier “PLASTIC” bags. Charging 10cents isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion about the value of the bag. What it will do is take three times longer for the heavier plastic to break down in the landfills and it will make some crony company rich. What a bunch of a-hole “nanny’s”. They couldn’t baby sit my goldfish.

            (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
            • BeenThereDoneThat says:

              Baby sit a goldfish. I like that.

              Good point on the heavy plastic bags.

              (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
            • sloslo says:

              “to reuse an item that is normally thrown away is to recycle it”

              Um no… To reuse an item that is normally thrown away is not recycling – that’s simply called “reuse”. Recycling is defined as processing used materials into new products. If you don’t believe me, you are welcome to google the definition, but reusing a plastic bag once and then throwing it away is not recycling by any definition of the word.

              (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
              • BeenThereDoneThat says:

                Question. As is usual it is never enough for some but don’t you think that reuse is better than NO USE at all??

                (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
                • maybe not says:

                  Sure, but it’s not “Recycling.”

                  (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
                • danika says:

                  Wanna split that hair a bit finer?

                  I also hope they win.

                  TQ, once again, we disagree.

                  (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
                • maybe not says:

                  To me, it’s more like splitting the trash/recycle can. A wider aim.

                  (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • sloslo says:

      This isn’t the government telling you what to do. You are free to purchase all the plastic bags you want. You just won’t get a free bag handout from the grocery store anymore and will instead have the pay for the cost of the bag like anything else you get from the store.

      “We are going after a minority of people here and making the majority pay the price.”

      Actually, the only people who are going to pay the price are the people who can’t be bothered to bring their own bags to the store and instead rely on “bag welfare” to get one for free from the store. Previously everyone (including people who brought their own bags) had to pay for free disposable bags (in the form of higher grocery costs) for shoppers that didn’t bring their own. This law just requires people pay for what they use.

      “I recycle ALL of our plastic bags.”

      Recycling is not a substitute for reuse. It takes considerable time, money, and energy to recycle plastic bags and it’s never anywhere near 100% material that ends up being recycled. It is far better to get a good set of reusable bags and bring them to the store.

      (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
      • BeenThereDoneThat says:

        This isn’t government telling you what to do? Umm let me see. I have been on this earth for fourty seven years and have NEVER seen myself or anyone pay for paper or plastic. Isn’t it a goverrnment body here in SLO that is implementing this?? So then what would you call it my smug friend?

        As far as your welfare, what a LAME arguement. I don’t go into the store and ask for any for free. It is given to me if and WHEN I purchace a product. It is build into the price of the product and the business doing the business. Again make a better arguement.

        Like I said before I do my fair share of recycling but I don’t need the Gov’t and your type telling me if and how I need to do it!!!

        (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
        • maybe not says:

          “Oh the times, they are a changin.”

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
        • Typoqueen says:

          “I have been on this earth for fourty seven years and have NEVER seen myself or anyone pay for paper or plastic.”

          Well in most stores you are paying for both those plastic and paper bags. I get 5 cents back for every cloth bag that I use in every major market that I shop at…… on a side note I just realized that there’s not a ‘cents’ key on my laptop.

          (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
          • BeenThereDoneThat says:

            You must be a politician, because you pull out bits and pieces to make your arguement without quoting everything in its entirety. I stated further down in the next paragraph that it is built into the pricing, so if that isn’t paying for it what is??? You and Sloslo make me laugh with your spin on things. Again make an arguement. I just hear chatter.

            (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
            • Typoqueen says:

              No you said ” It is build into the price of the product and the business doing the business.” It’s not built into the price of the product. As I said, I buy the product and I don’t buy the bags but you do.

              (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down

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