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Texas Supreme Court Strikes Down Plastic Bag Ban

July 31, 2018

The Heartland Institute,

Joe Barnett,

July 30, 2018-

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the City of Laredo’s ban on plastic bags, in a decision likely to overturn similar ordinances in nearly a dozen other Texas municipalities. In a unanimous ruling on June 22, the state Supreme Court found local government laws preventing retailers from providing so-called single-use plastic bags to customers were clearly prohibited by state law. The 1989 Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act states local governments may not “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.”

The plain meaning of a “container” includes bags, the court ruled. A 2014 nonbinding opinion from then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott advised the act prohibited bag bans.

Intentions Ruled Irrelevant

Laredo claimed its 2014 ban was intended to control litter, reduce maintenance costs for the city’s storm-water drainage system, and prevent flooding from blocked drains, goals which the city argued fall within its authority.

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