The City Council of Americana, in São Paulo State, adopted Municipal Law No. 5.026/2010, which bans the distribution of plastic bags in local commercial establishments and determines penalties for noncompliance. A São Paulo State court (Órgão Especial do Tribunal de Justiça de São Paulo) found the law violates the Brazilian Constitution by usurping the authority of the federal and state governments and improperly increasing public administration expenditures, but a judge from the Federal Supreme Court (STF) overturned the state court decision, explaining that the Brazilian Constitution grants municipalities authority to legislate on environmental matters of local interest and Law 5.026/2010 does not improperly affect public administration. The São Paulo Plastic Industry Union appealed that one-judge STF decision [from 30 November 2015, Relator Min. Dias Toffoli].
The five-judge Second Chamber of the STF unanimously dismissed the Industry Union appeal and upheld the one-judge STF decision, referencing Brazilian jurisprudence that recognizes municipalities’ authority to legislate on environmental matters of local interest (including another plastic bags ban case - RE 834.510/SP) and finding that the National Solid Waste Policy (Law No. 12.305/2010) doesn’t establish any policy to be carried out by municipalities specific to plastic bags. The Chamber concluded:
Being that the matter addressed by the municipal law at issue is of interest to the city, by relating to the management of solid waste produced in the locality – specifically plastic bags – and keeping in consideration the right of the citizens to an ecologically balanced environment, the conclusion about the constitutionality of the municipal law under analysis is reinforced.
(Unofficial translation of “sendo o assunto tratado na lei municipal impugnada matéria de interesse do município, por estar relacionada à gestão dos resídios sólidos produzidos na localidade – especificamente das sacolas plásticas - e levando-se em consideração o direito dos cidadãos a um meio ambiente ecologicamente equilibrado, reforça-se aconclusão acerca da constitucionalidade da lei municipal em análise.”)