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Single Use Plastics Reduction for Businesses

In an effort to work toward zero waste goals and address community concerns for harmful plastics and litter in our city and waterways, City Council took an early step in passing an ordinance regulating single-use plastic straws city-wide and expanded polystyrene (EPS aka Styrofoam) on city rights-of-way. The ordinance was approved in December 2018, the formal transition period began January 2019, and City Council approved updates to the ordinance in October 2019. These changes were based on feedback received from businesses during our outreach campaign in which every business affected by the ordinance was visited and educated on the regulations. View the final Single-Use Straws and Expanded Polystyrene Ordinance

Quick Summary of Regulations, as of January 1, 2020:

  • No business may provide a customer with a plastic straw, unless for a medical need.
  • Businesses may provide customers with a non-plastic straw, only when a customer requests one. Drive-through windows are exempted from the request-only requirement.
  • Polylactic acid (PLA) straws are not allowed as an alternative under St. Petersburg’s regulations. PLA is considered a type of thermoplastic and is characteristic of corn-based substitutes. Despite them being biodegradable in certain environments, they are still plastic.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS, or StryrofoamTM)
  • Businesses that operate on public property, in city facilities, or on city streets and rights-of-way are not allowed to distribute EPS. This includes sidewalk cafes, food trucks, pushcarts, and vendors operating on public property. Clarification was provided to include Al Lang Stadium, the new St. Pete Pier, Albert Whitted Airport, and all Enterprise Properties under the EPS code.

The municipal code will be updated in early 2020, and can be found here:
Article IV. - Expanded Polystyrene and Plastics Regulation

Eco-friendly Business Toolkit: Minimizing Plastics

The City is currently building an Eco-Friendly Business Toolkit to assist businesses and customers with this transition. The first toolkit module is available below and outlines why regulating single-use plastics is necessary, summarized ordinance information and suggested next steps for businesses. A folder of related materials is available (second link) as part of the toolkit and includes files for signage, stickers, employee tips and more.

Toolkit & Related Files

The City will continue to update this toolkit to include designed files for materials to be used by businesses and customers. To provide suggestions for desired materials, fill out the Eco-friendly Business Toolkit: Minimizing Plastics request form.

While the City of St. Petersburg cannot make recommendations on plastic-free and expanded polystyrene-free product lines or suppliers who carry them, our partner volunteer organization is putting together some community-sourced lists that may be helpful as reference while you explore your options. Visit their page here for more information: Suncoast Rise Above Plastics – Suppliers of Alternative Materials.

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