Florida Retail Federation reacts to Gainesville's plastic bag ban repeal

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)- At Thursday's meeting, Gainesville commissioners voted 4 to 2 to repeal its plastic bag and styrofoam ban. This comes after commissioners voted to uphold the ban against the recommendation of the city attorney last month.

Last month Gainesville commissioners moved forward with their single-use plastic bag and styrofoam ban, in spite of possible legal challenges. Thursday commissioners voted to start the repeal of that ban and now commissioners have to look for other solutions.

"Unfortunately because of the decision of the 3rd district appellate court that had a strong ruling against the coral-gables case for the single-use plastic bag and styrofoam ban the city commission did vote 4 to 2 to repeal our single-use plastic bag and styrofoam ban," said Adrian Hayes-Santos, Gainesville Commissioner, District #4.

Commissioner Hayes- Santos says Florida's most popular supermarket chain is behind the Retail Federation's opposition to the bag ban.

"I'm disappointed that the Florida Retail Federation and Publix were able to successfully, these laws were put forward by them. Publix is the main one behind these laws behind preempting cities from being able to protect their environments and protect their communities. I think more people need to know that," said Hayes-Santos.

Florida retail federation's spokesperson told TV20 their organization represents businesses that rely on materials like plastic bags and styrofoam to provide a safe and affordable service to their customers.

"Based on the feedback that we received, I think that we need to do maybe a better job of informing consumers of the steps that retailers have taken both locally and statewide to make themselves more sustainable," said James Miller, Florida Retail Federation.

In the meantime, commissioners are looking at other ways to make Gainesville more eco-friendly.

"We have a zero-waste plan to move towards zero waste. We're producing an amount of waste that everyone is doing. Also, hopefully, move forward soon on a pilot program for composting. I'm working on a total revamp on a recycling ordinance to be able to address a lot of issues that we have," said Hayes-Santos.

The commission's decision was just a vote to intend to repeal. It still has to go through two readings before the bag ban is officially dead.
However, the city's plastic straw and stirrer ban will go into effect January 20-20 as it is not pre-empted by the state law.