August 22, 2019-
Single-use plastic bans in Florida are being rolled back as quickly as they are rolled out. The town of Surfside voted to repeal its plastic ban — passed only six weeks ago — at its Aug. 13 commission meeting. The next day, the town of Palm Beach, which passed a ban in June, moved to rescind it. Gainesville followed suit on Thursday. And Alachua County moved to repeal their ban the week prior.
The municipalities aren’t changing their minds on the need to reduce plastic waste; they’re walking back policy to avoid a legal battle. They have each received letters from the Florida Retail Federation, the lobbying group representing retail giants Walmart, Target and Publix, among others, alleging the bans violate state law and threatening to sue the local governments. The Retail Federation cites a 2008 law, or what’s known as state pre-emption, that prevents local governments from regulating recyclable materials, including “auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags.” Instead, the Federation prefers “to have a comprehensive statewide discussion about this issue, instead of a patchwork of local regulations” that may be “confusing to consumers and difficult for retailers,” spokesman James Miller said.