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County passes plastic straw ban

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

[Updated with the effective date of the ordinance.]

The Alachua County Commission has passed a plastic straw and stirrer ban for the unincorporated areas of the county. The law prohibits all beverage providers (whether the beverage is provided free of charge or sold) from offering any single-use plastic straw or stirrer. Like the City of Gainesville ordinance, there are exceptions, including an exception for “any person with a disability that requires or relies on same to consume beverages.”

Boxes of plastic straws can still be sold to customers for their personal use, and there are also exceptions for medical or dental facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Violation of this ordinance will result in a $250 penalty. 

Commissioner Mike Byerly was concerned that restaurants would use the disability accommodations as an excuse to “blow us off,” keep doing what they’ve always done, and hand out plastic straws. He said there is a “vanishingly-small” number of people who really need straws, and they could bring their own.

During public comment on the motion, Debbie Martinez told the Commission that, in her experience in Gainesville, all restaurants are complying with the law. 

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The commissioners discussed having a grace period that would allow restaurants to use their existing stocks of plastic straws and arrange for shipments of paper straws, but they decided not to add that language. The ordinance goes into effect on March 10.

We have spoken with employees at several restaurants in Gainesville, and almost all of them have gotten rid of all plastic straws because they’re concerned about being fined for even having them. 

  • How sad that our county and city commissioners are passing this kind of legislation when there are more important issues that need to be dealt with like infrastructure Also it seems absurd that they focus on straws when we still have plastic everything else i.e. cups, soda and beer holders, plates, silverware… and the list goes on!

  • Paper straw in my PLASTIC cup with a PLASTIC lid that they give me in a PLASTIC bag…
    Trying to save turtles in oceans that are at least an hour and a half drive away from Alachua.
    The leaders of this county are stupid.

  • Banning Plastic Straws a Hollow Victory – A Surge of New Plastic is About to Hit the Planet. A world awash in plastic will soon get slammed by more, as major oil companies ramp up their production.

    Despite the City of Gainesville and Alachua County’s “trophy wars” on plastic bags and straws, a surge of new plastic is about to hit the planet as major oil companies ramp up their production.

    “As public concern about plastic pollution rises, consumers are reaching for canvas bags, metal straws, and reusable water bottles. But while individuals fret over images of oceanic garbage gyres, the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries are pouring billions of dollars into new plants intended to make millions more tons of plastic than they now pump out.

    Companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Saudi Aramco are ramping up output of plastic — which is made from oil and gas, and their byproducts — to hedge against the possibility that a serious global response to climate change might reduce demand for their fuels, analysts say. Petrochemicals, the category that includes plastic, now account for 14 percent of oil use, and are expected to drive half of oil demand growth between now and 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. The World Economic Forum predicts plastic production will double in the next 20 years.”

    https://e360.yale.edu/features/the-plastics-pipeline-a-surge-of-new-production-is-on-the-way

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