Gainesville Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags And Take Out Containers

January 18, 2019

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Starting August 1, 2019, you will no longer have the "plastic" bag option at a grocery store, restaurant or retail store within the City of Gainesville. The Gainesville City Commission unanimously voted Thursday (1/17/19) to ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers used by grocery stores, restaurants and retailers.  Gainesville rules apply to businesses and nonprofits alike, although the University of Florida and Santa Fe College would be exempt because they are overseen by state government. Retailers violating the ban will be subject to $250 fine for each offense.  However there are some exceptions to the ordinance.  While polystyrene foam containers and plastic carry-out bags from grocery, retail, restaurant, outdoor markets and fairs will be covered, these items are not: plastic produce bags inside grocery stores, meat packaging, pharmacy bags, laundry/dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags and straws. The Gainesville plastic ban is modeled after a similar set up in Coral Gables. Miami Beach has banned plastic bags and straws from cafes. However the ban isn’t set in stone. The Florida Constitution contains the Home Rule Powers Act, which since 1972, allows local governments to pass laws and ordinances as they see fit, as long as they are not contradictory to existing laws.  Recently a legal move called “preemption” has been employed to prevent such local laws from being enacted. The Florida Retail Federation used this tactic and took the city of Coral Gables to court over its ban.  Although the courts rejected the claim, the Federation is appealing the decision and put other Florida cities similar plastic restrictions ordinaces on hold until a final verdict is made.

SOURCE: Gainesville Sun

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