Plastic industry sues to keep plastic bags in place

There’s a growing movement to ban single use plastic bags. Countries are jumping on this environmental bandwagon. A number of states are in the process or have already banned them. Oregon is currently considering a state-wide ban, while Evanston, Illinois is debating whether to become the 22nd city to ban them .Other communities have imposed a tax on the bags, with Montgomery County, Maryland, passing a five-cent plastic-bag tax on May 3.

The plastics industry isn’t taking this lying down. Led by South Carolina-based bag manufacturer Hilex Poly, opponents in the plastic industry are waging an all-out campaign to deny that plastic bags pose a threat to the environment.

Plastic-bag manufacturers helped defeat a potential statewide plastic bag ban bill in California last year, and have taken on local initiatives all across the country. Now the plastic industry – led again by Hilex Poly, along with Superbag Operating Ltd. and Advance Polybag –  has upped the ante, filing a lawsuit in the U.S. Circuit Court in South Carolina targets California-based reusable-bag manufacturer ChicoBag. The lawsuit alleges that ChicoBag “deceptively communicates that ChicoBag’s products are superior to plastic bags, such as those sold by Hilex, with regard to environmental impact” and seeks to end all advertising suggesting that reusable bags represent an “alleged environmental superiority.”

“I welcome the opportunity to engage with these corporate giants in a fair and impartial courtroom,” says Andy Keller, ChicoBag’s president. “Plastic bag manufacturers… have spent millions of dollars trying to persuade voters and elected officials against single-use bag legislation… Now they are trying to sue a small entrepreneurial company into silence.”

ChicoBag has built a reputation for quality and a commitment to sustainability. Their “Zero Waste” program repurposes and recycles old reusable bags – a first in the industry. Having iinterviewed them  several times in the past, it’s clear that they walk their talk. As an organization dedicated to promoting green business, they are also a member of Green America (formerly Co-op America). As a company with such an actively visible green profile, the plastic industry – with so much to lose if and when consumers make the switch away from single use plastic bags to reusables – is doing the most logical thing they can do – striking out against a company that is effectively leading the way to making that end result a reality.

Consumers have a choice on what products to buy and / or use. ChicoBag continues to offer a growing variety of high quality, colorful reusable bags at affordable prices. So gasp away plastics industry. The handwriting’s on the wall.

4 Responses

  1. Hi Debra,

    Thank you for your post on the update of the goings- on at ChicoBag. We appreciate you spreading the word, and wanted to make a couple of clarifications.

    1) ChicoBag is not a non-profit 501 (c) (3), but a private company. It is an easy assumption to make, as Andy Keller does tend to model his business after a non-profit organization.

    2) Your link to one of the Plaintiffs , Superbag, is a company based in Japan, who is also a plastic bag manufacturer. However,the Superbag company hat is suing us is Superbag Operating, Ltd, which is home based in Texas. I made the same error, as well, at the on-set of this action. Their website is

    Debra, again, thanks so much for encouraging citizens to stand up to the big guys of the world, who think they can push their agenda on us all.


    Barbara Mason

    Again, Debra, we thank you for

  2. Here’s an update on the lawsuit involving ChicoBag. A settlement was reached Sept. 13, 2011. Use this link to view ChicoBag’s press release regarding the settlement

    • Jane:

      Thanks for that. I hadn’t been able to get to post the story yet so very glad you sent this! And thanks for reading Envirothink.

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