Plastic bag and Styrofoam ban on the table in Gainesville

Published: Dec. 3, 2018 at 11:42 PM EST
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Gainesville's goal to become a zero waste city could take another step forward Thursday during a community meeting about banning single use plastic bags and Styrofoam.

It's bags like these you get from the grocery store which would be banned because they always find themselves back in the environment A scenario Gainesville leaders want to eliminate.

City Commissioner for District 2 Harvey Ward said, "we know that we can affect good positive change by doing this and it's time that we did."

City leaders are trying to formulate an ordinance to pass the ban because there isn't movement to do so on the federal and state level.

Commissioner Ward explained, "all the Styrofoam and plastic bags eventually float into the same places. Waste doesn't respect city borders very well. So my hope all along would be the federal or state government would take control of this but they're clearly not going to at this point, at least not any time soon."

Some businesses have already started making moves towards eliminating bags and Styrofoam but finding a way to bring everyone into the fold is the next biggest task.

City Commissioner for District 4 Adrian Hayes-Santos said, "restaurants that used to use Styrofoam like Mi Apa have now moved away from it and we're seeing that across the city. So I think it is something the community has already taken hold and it's just another step forward to make sure everyone is on the same playing field for the restaurants and stores."

No final decisions will be made Thursday but the first step of the process will begin if voted for by the commission.

Ward said multiple more votes will be needed before any ordinance is approved. "The most that will come out of Thursday night is instructions for staff to right an ordinance then at some point in the next couple of months staff will bring us an ordinance

back and then we'll have to vote on that ordinance in two public meetings. So there are at least 3 votes between us and having something on the books."

The ban would be mostly for grocery store bags and Styrofoam take-out containers with a few exceptions.

Hayes-Santos explains what those exceptions might be. "There's a variety of items that don't have a readily available alternative. Things like plastic bags for picking up dog waste, plastic bags for newspaper, Styrofoam plates for meat products in the grocery store things like that would be exempted from the ordinance."

A time-certain discussion is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 pm which means no matter what topic is on the table at that time will conclude. Then the plastic and Styrofoam ban will be discussed for at least an hour and a vote will be made.