Gainesville’s Single-Use Plastic Straw and Stirrer Ban effective January 1, 2020
In an effort to improve our environmental ethic and sustainability practices, the City Commission approved a ban of single-use plastic straws and stirrers by food service providers and retail establishments (Download Copy of Ordinance).
The goal of the city is to replace these items with reusable, recyclable, or compostable alternatives. Plastic straws and stirrers are not biodegradable and can end up in our waterways potentially harming marine wildlife. Plastic straws and stirrers remain intact or break down into smaller pieces of plastics (Microplastics) which can be consumed by sea animals, fish, and birds.
This ban includes straws made from “biologically-based polymers” (e.g., “PLA” or “PHA” materials). Products made from biologically-based polymers are often deceptively advertised as compostable or made from plants. These products can have the same damaging effects on our environment since they don’t break down naturally.
Acceptable single-use alternatives include paper, bamboo, and wheat products.
Single-Use Straws and Stirrers Ban FAQs
The ban on plastic straws and stirrers was approved by the city commission in August 2019 and is included in Ordinance No. 180678.
What constitutes a “single-use" plastic straw or stirrer?
Single-use straws are a disposable tube used for the purpose of consuming beverages and intended for one-time only use. A single-use plastic stirrer is a device that is used to mix beverages and intended for one-time only use.
Both items are made predominantly of plastic derived from a petroleum polymer or a biologically based polymer.
Why was this done?
Single-use straws are detrimental to the environment. They don’t fully degrade, overburden landfills and introduce unsafe chemicals into the environment. Additionally, these materials become litter in our streets, parks, public places and waterways. Straws also consistently create hazards for aquatic and land animals due to ingestion.
When will the single-use plastic straws and stirrers ban take effect?
This ordinance became effective immediately upon adoption, but provides for an implementation period that will allow retail establishment the opportunity to expend current inventory and transition to reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives. The city will not begin enforcement until January 1, 2020.
Can retailers/food service providers sell single-use plastic straws?
Food service providers will not be permitted to sell or use these items. Retail establishments can sell pre-packaged beverages with a single-use plastic straw (i.e. juice boxes) and boxes of pre-packaged single-use plastic straws or single-use plastic stirrers offered for retail sale to a consumer for personal use.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. While discontinuation of all use of single-use plastic straws and stirrers are strongly encouraged, the ordinance does not specifically apply to:
- Persons with disabilities
- Pre-packaged beverages with a single-use plastic straw (i.e. juice boxes)
- Boxes of pre-packaged single-use plastic straws or single-use plastic stirrers that are offered for retail sale to a consumer for personal use
- ** Please note – The ban DOES NOT APPLY to medical or dental facilities; hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities
What about special event vendors?
Any special event permittees or any vendor operating under a city permit will not be permitted to sell, use or provide single-use plastic straws and stirrers.
What are the enforcement penalties?
The city may enforce this article by civil citation of $250.00