ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Whether you think it's about time or a waste of time, 10News took your top questions posted on Facebook about a plan to ban plastic straws in St. Pete to the council member leading the charge for the change.
District 6 city council member Gina Driscoll says she hopes the "No Straw St. Pete" campaign encourages greater discussion about single-use plastics, like utensils and cup lids.
Among supporters of the proposal, many questioned why the city would stop at just plastic straws if a ban were to be implemented.
Cheryl Mitchell asked: "Why not ban all plastic period?"
GINA DRISCOLL: "Plastic straws are one of the items that’s not pre-empted by the state. Our state has a prohibition on the ban of plastic bags, polystyrene, so we do have some limits as to what we can do with certain plastic items. Straws are just one item under the category of single-use plastics causing this big problem that we have in our waterways, and I think we should address each of those items. I want to have a customized approach for each item since they’re used for different things. Maybe for one item, a ban is the best solution. For something like plastic straws, we might decide the best approach is to do a request ordinance where folks have to ask for a straw.”
Other commenters on the 10News WTSP Facebook page raised concerns over the potential cost burden for businesses.
Some restaurants might not support a plastic straw ban is because 100 plastic straws cost about $0.98 at retail price. However, 100 environmentally-friendly paper straws cost about $8.23.
Laurie Windsor Sligh remarked: "The paper straws cost TWICE as much ... Every restaurant on the beach will have to raise their prices to combat the cost."
DRISCOLL: "That’s a concern for me too. I looked into it and paper straws can cost up to five times more. We’re keeping an open mind, that’s why we’re having that discussion. We want to make sure that we come up with a solution that’s right for St. Pete.”
Driscoll pointed to Cassis American Brasserie on Beach Drive, which has already switched to paper straws, but on a request basis, as being a viable option for businesses to keep costs down.
Overall, many commenters seemed to question the need for such a ban when other issues continue to plague the city.
Matt Parents quipped: "Don't worry about untreated sewage flowing into Tampa Bay, let's ban straws."
DRISCOLL: “Well, we’re very fortunate here that with our city council and our mayor, we’re able to handle a lot of these important issues all at once. Sewage is definitely an important concern that we have. There’s an ongoing solution and we’re continuing to monitor that. But we can do that while we’re addressing other issues that are important to the city."
Several U.S. cities have banned or limited the use of plastic straws in restaurants:
- Fort Myers, Florida
- Miami Beach, Florida
- Malibu, California
- Davis, California
- San Luis Obispo, California
So far,about 20 businesses have joined the campaign in support of eliminating plastic straws in St. Pete, including Kahwa Coffee, 2nd on Second, Cassis Wooden Rooster, The Mill, Intermezzo Cafe, Il Ritorno, Station House, Cordova inn, Barefoot Beach Club, Hotel Cabana, Ichicoro, Tryst, Banyan Cafe, Three Birds Tavern, Pom Poms, The Avenue, Park and Rec, King's Street Food and Sea Salt among others.
The city of St. Petersburg will continue its discussion on reducing or possibly eliminating plastic straws at 10:30 a.m. Thursday during the Health, Energy, Resiliency and Sustainability Committee meeting.
Driscoll says she's hopeful they'll have a "clear path" on how to move forward with the proposal within the next few months.
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