Los Angeles Business Journal

Plastic Bag Maker Sues County Over Ban

By Howard Fine Monday, October 3, 2011

The nation’s largest plastic bag maker has filed suit against Los Angeles County trying to overturn an ordinance that bans plastic bags and requires retailers to charge for paper bags.

The suit by South Carolina-based Hilex Poly Co. and several California plaintiffs, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims the charge on paper bags violates the requirement under state Proposition 26 that fees and taxes be approved by a two-thirds vote of the people.

The Board of Supervisors earlier this year passed an ordinance banning the use of plastic carry-out bags and imposing a 10-cent charge on each paper bag requested by customers. The law took effect July 1 and applies to grocery stores in unincorporated areas, which stretch from Marina del Rey to the Mojave Desert.

Environmental groups had pressed for the law in an attempt to reduce litter and the numbers of plastic and paper bags ending up in landfills. The charge on paper bags is designed to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags.

Hilex is seeking to overturn the entire law by striking down the portion requiring a charge for paper bags. The lawsuit does not contend that the ban on plastic bags itself violates state law.

“This charge is not only illegal, but it’s a hidden tax, exactly what Proposition 26 was meant to stop,” said Mark Daniels, vice president of sustainability and environmental policy for Hilex. “This law…sidesteps the electoral process and unfairly punishes consumers.”