Why Orlando Will Never Ban Plastic Grocery Bags or Styrofoam

Did you know Orlando is not allowed to create a city-wide ban on styrofoam? And did you know your Publix can be thanked for that? In 2016 Publix spent $1 million "lobbying lawmakers to pass legislation that would pre-empt local governments from enacting bans on Styrofoam containers" according to the Miami Herald. The legislation passed. No city in Florida except Miami can pass anti-styrofoam laws. 

Thanks Publix.

And that's just a small display of their employee-owned power. It has more cash and investments than Walmart, is more profitable than Walmart, is the 8th largest privately-owned corporation in the United States and has, just in the state of Florida, 774 locations. We counted 32 in Orlando alone back in 2015.

It's not illegal in Florida (for now) for businesses to provide styrofoam alternatives. Stores can purchase carriers, cups and plates that do not contain styrofoam.

Related, what about plastic grocery bags? Are Florida cities allowed to ban those? No. There's a ban on banning those too. No City in Florida (with over 100,000 residents) can create a ban on plastic bags. The rule went onto the books in 2008 and remains in place to this day according to Sun Sentinel

You can thank the Florida Retail Foundation for that one. 

There are ways to lower the use of plastic bags. One is a ban. The other is a tax. If a shopper wants a bag, they pay for the bag. This is similar to the IKEA shopping bag model. If you want one of their blue shopping totes to carry your paper furniture to your car, you pay 75 cents... or $2,145. 

We found a plastic bag alternative: cassava-based bags. They're made in Indonesia by Cleanbodia and combine a renewable resource, cassava starch, with a fossil fuel. When disposed of, the starch degrades naturally within a few months and produces bacteria which begins to directly attack the fossil polymer chains, drastically reducing degradation from hundreds of years to about 5 years.

The company says this does not compromise the strength of the bags. It says the bags are as durable as plastic of equal size and thickness. They can even hold hot liquid and are food-safe.

So rest assured styrofoam and plastic bag lovers: you'll never have to carry your groceries in a paper bag or hold a pound of beef on a cardboard tray. Publix and the State of Florida have your backs.