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Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wants to phase out styrofoam from Florida stores

Polystyrene, or styrofoam, is used in food packaging products like styrofoam cups, plates and to-go boxes.
Credit: Pamela Au - stock.adobe.com
White styrofoam used food containers stacked in trash can in park

SARASOTA, Fla. — During a visit to Sarasota on Friday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced a new initiative. The gubernatorial candidate said her department had begun rulemaking to phase out the use of polystyrene in grocery stores and businesses across Florida.

Polystyrene, or styrofoam, is used in food packaging products like styrofoam cups, plates and to-go boxes. The products are inexpensive but Fried said studies have shown the chemicals within polystyrene foam have been linked to cancer, vision and hearing loss, birth defects, respiratory irritation and a whole variety of other health issues. 

"Polystyrene may be convenient, but there is a hidden danger to public health from these disposable consumer products. Chemicals in polystyrene are not only linked to human and animal health concerns, but because these petroleum-based products take at least 500 years to decompose, their negative effects continue long after they’re thrown away," said Commissioner Fried. 

The rule the Department of Agriculture is drafting plans to slowly phase out styrofoam packaging year by year - reducing the allowable amount of styrofoam being sold each year.