Texas Supreme Court says plastic bag bans are illegal

Texas Supreme Court says plastic bag bans are illegal

Local ordinances cannot trump the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, court rules.

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July 2, 2018
DeAnne Toto
Legislation and regulations Municipal Recycling Municipal Solid Waste Plastics

The Texas Supreme Court says the city of Laredo, Texas, is not permitted to ban plastic bags because such a move would violate the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act. The ruling could affect a number of cities throughout Texas that have banned businesses from using single-use plastic bags.

KXAN reports that Texas Supreme Court Justic Nathan Hecht wrote, “We must take the statutes as they are writte, and the one before us is written quite clearly.”

He was referencing the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, which states: “… local government … may not adopt an ordinance … to … 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.”

Laredo’s ordinance was passed in June 2014. The Laredo Merchants Association sued, KXAN reports, with an initial court ruling saying the city could institute such a ban. However, an appeals court overturned that ruling. While the city argued before the Texas Supreme Court that plastic bags are not a “container or package,” the court said otherwise.    

While the court’s decision is specific to Laredo’s ordinance, it could lead to legal challenges in other Texas cities that have banned single-use plastic bags.

According to Bag the Bags, Texas, in addition to Laredo, the following Texas cities have bans on single-use plastic bags:

  • Fort Stockton;
  • Brownsville;
  • South Padre Island;
  • Austin;
  • Laguna Vista;
  • Freer;
  • Sunset Valley;
  • Kermit;
  • Port Aransas; and
  • Eagle Pass.