This tracker was launched July 15, 2022. It was last updated October 3, 2022.
The Plastics Litigation Tracker tracks cases addressing plastics across federal and state courts. It includes resolved cases and cases that are still pending. The cases can be filtered by category, plaintiff, defendant, and jurisdiction. They are listed in reverse chronological order based on the date of the latest update in each case. Where there is no decision, the cases will appear in alphabetical order. Descriptions of the categories can be found here. This blog post gives an introduction to the project and analyzes trends evident from the cases in the tracker at the time it was launched.
The tracker will be updated as cases are resolved and new cases are filed. To submit cases, updates, or corrections to this database, please email [email protected]nyu.edu.
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Restaurant Action Alliance NYC v. City of New York, No. 100734/2015 (N.Y. Sup Ct. 2015)
Allegations: Petitioner, industry association, brought an article 78 action against the City of New York and Kathryn Garcia in her capacity as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Sanitation, seeking to vacate and annul the Commissioner 2017 determination that single-serve food-service expanded polystyrene (EPS) or soft foam cannot be recycled in an environmentally effective of economically feasible manner. Filed 4/28/2015.
Outcome: The Court dismissed the petition, finding that the Commissioner addressed the material aspects of the petition with a painstakingly studied decision that was in no way rendered arbitrarily or capriciously. As of January 1, 2019, New York City stores, food service establishments, and mobile food commissaries may no longer offer, sell or possess single-use foam food containers such as foam takeout clamshells, cups, plates, bowls, trays, and coolers. Additionally, manufacturers, distributors, and stores may no longer sell or offer for sale loose fill foam packaging (“packing peanuts”) in the city.
City of Laredo v. Laredo Merchs. Ass'n, No. 16-0748 (Tex. Sup. Ct. 2016)
Allegations: Plaintiffs, trade association, brought an action against the City of Laredo seeking declaratory judgment that an ordinance which banned commercial establishments from using single-use plastic or paper checkout bags was unenforceable. The Plaintiffs argued that the ordinance was preempted as it conflicted with the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act. Filed 9/22/2016.
Outcome: The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the Defendant. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed. On petition for review, the Court affirmed the court of appeals, holding that the Solid Waste Disposal Act preempted the ordinance. See the opinion here.
Save the Plastic Bag Coal. v. City & Cty. of S.F., No. A137056 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012)
Allegations: Plaintiff, an association of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, brought an action against the City and County of San Francisco seeking a writ of mandate to prevent the implementation and enforcement of a local ordinance regulating the use of plastic checkout bags by large supermarkets and retail pharmacies. The Plaintiff argued that the ordinance violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
Outcome: The trial court denied the petition. On appeal, the Court affirmed, holding that the ordinance was a police power regulatory action to which the categorical exemptions of CEQA applied. See the opinion here.
Save the Plastic Bag Coal. v. Cty. of Marin, No. A133868 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011)
Allegations: Plaintiff, an association of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, brought an action against the County of Marin seeking a write of mandate to prevent the implementation and enforcement of a local ordinance banning the use of single use carryout bags. Plaintiff argued that the ordinance failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and therefore must be set aside.
Outcome: The Marin County superior court denied the writ of mandate and declaratory relief. On appeal, the Court affirmed, holding that the ordinance was exempt from the CEQA. See the order here.
Save the Plastic Bag Coal. V. San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Mgmt. Auth., No. CV120078 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2012)
Allegations: Plaintiff, an association of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, brought an action against the City of Manhattan Beach seeking a writ of mandate. The Plaintiff challenged an ordinance banning the use of single-use plastic bags. Filed 1/30/2012.
Outcome: Court denied writ of mandate and ruled that the waste management agency's decision not to conduct further environmental review was appropriate. See the order here.
Save the Plastic Bag Coal. v. City of Long Beach, No. BS-132500 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2011)
Allegations: Plaintiff, an association of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, brought an action against the City of Long Beach seeking a writ of mandate. The Plaintiff challenged a city ordinance prohibiting stores from providing plastic carry-out bags to consumers. Filed 6/9/2011. See the petition here.
Outcome: In exchange for the city resolution adopting the county environmental impact report and retracting and cancelling any part of the addendum inconsistent with the environmental impact report, the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition agreed to dismiss the lawsuit. See the resolution here.
Save the Plastic Bag Coal. v. City of Manhattan Beach, No. S180720 (Cal. 2010)
Allegations: Plaintiff, an association of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, brought an action against the City of Manhattan Beach seeking a writ of mandate. The Plaintiff challenged the city issuance of a negative declaration regarding an ordinance banning the distribution of plastic bags at the point of sale.
Outcome: The superior court granted Plaintiff petition. On appeal, the court of appeal affirmed. The Court reversed, holding that the Plaintiff had a public interest standing to seek enforcement of the city alleged duty to prepare an environmental impact report, that corporations are not held to a higher standard than individuals in qualifying for public interest standing, that the Plaintiff had standing in its own right to seek enforcement, but also that the ordinance would have had no significant effect on the environment. See the opinion here.
Coalition to Support Plastic Bag Recycling v. City of Oakland, No. RG07339097 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2007)
Allegations: Plaintiff, an association of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, brought an action against the City of Oakland seeking a writ of mandate. The Plaintiff challenged a city ordinance banning the distribution of plastic carry-out bags by large retailers. Filed 11/21/2007.
Outcome: The court granted petitioners' writ of mandate directing respondent (City) to suspend implementation and enforcement of the ordinance, vacate, and set aside the ordinance. See the judgment here.
Alternate Fuels, Inc. v. Dir. of the Ill. EPA, No. 96071 (Ill. 2004)
Allegations: Plaintiff, alternative fuel producer, brought an action against the state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeking a declaratory judgment that neither the material used to make fuel nor the fuel itself was waste within the meaning of the state Environmental Protection Act (after the state EPA issued a violation notice to the Plaintiff requiring it to submit permit applications for waste storage and waste treatment operation).
Outcome: The circuit court granted summary judgment to the Plaintiff and granted a summary determination in favor of the EPA for attorney fees. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed. The Court affirmed and denied petition for rehearing, holding that the issue of whether the material was waste under the Act was ripe for review and justiciable, the materials were not discarded and therefore were not waste under the Act, and the EPA incorrect statutory interpretation was not rulemaking and did not entitle the Plaintiff to attorney fees. See the opinion here.
Plastic Pipe & Fittings Ass'n v. Cal. Bldg. Standards Com., No. B166499 (Cal. Ct. App. 2003)
Allegations: Plaintiff, trade association, brought an action against the California Building Standards Commission and state agencies seeking to compel the Defendants to adopt certain provisions of the Uniform Plumbing Code involving the use of polyethylene pipes (PEX) as part of the California Plumbing Code without environmental review.
Outcome: The trial court granted a peremptory writ of mandate compelling this adoption. The Court reversed, with directions to the superior court to vacate the peremptory write of mandate and to enter a judgment denying the petition, holding that evidence from the administrative record supported conclusions that the use of PEX could present an unreasonable risk of harm and that environmental review was necessary. See the opinion here.