Gainesville plastic bag ban hits snag

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An appeals court ruling overturning a styrofoam container ban in South Florida may set a precedent for similar bans in North Central Florida, with Gainesville City Commissioners now reacting to the court ruling.

A little backstory is needed here first; In 2016, the city of Coral Gables prohibited polystyrene or styrofoam products to be used by any city retailers by declaring at least one state statute unconstitutional which was held up by a trial court.

The state statute 500.90 preempts the regulation of the use or sale of polystyrene products by local ordinances. However, this statute along with 2 others were found to actually be constitutional by the appellate court which overturns the Coral Gables ban of styrofoam products.

City of Gainesville commissioners this year went ahead with reading their own ordinance to also prohibit single-use plastic bag sales and styrofoam products within city limits but now need to re-evaluate their plans.

Commissioner for District 4 Adrian Hayes-Santos said, "this is a very disappointing decision because, in essence, they overturned Coral Gables law. What it really means is our republican controlled legislature and the huge corporations in our state like Publix have won this case. They will continue to preempt cities from protecting their environment and their communities."

Commissioner Hayes-Santos says he still believes a ban on single-use plastics and styrofoam needs to be made for environmental reasons but agreed it will now be much harder to find a way to get an ordinance passed without the threat of being sued by the Florida Retail Federation.

There will be a discussion at Thursday's Gainesville City Commission meeting to find alternative methods to possibly get an ordinance in play, or see if it will be simply wiser to drop it altogether.