Florida Keys

Key West bans disposable plastic straws citywide, but with new exceptions

Cities ban single-use plastic products to help reduce ocean pollution

About 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year, according to the United Nations. Some cities have banned single-use plastic products including straws and bags.
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About 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year, according to the United Nations. Some cities have banned single-use plastic products including straws and bags.

Come next year in Key West, don’t expect a disposable plastic straw or stirrer to come with your drink.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday night, the Key West City Commission banned retailers from selling or distributing them.

They made the decision inside a nearly empty chamber at City Hall, with no fanfare or congratulations from any residents. That’s because the law was essentially sealed last month.

But the law is a little different from what the commission approved in August.

Instead of banning people from possessing the straws, the law is aimed at businesses. Exceptions were added for disabled people who rely on the straws. And prepackaged drinks that come with plastic straws, such as kids’ juice boxes, are also exempt.

Medical and dental offices are also exempt, along with the Monroe County School District.

Code enforcement will monitor the straw ban.

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The commission approved the measure at its last meeting. But a second vote was required to make it a law.

The ban will goes into effect immediately but enforcement won’t start until Jan. 1, 2020, to give businesses time to adjust.

Florida cities and municipalities may ban straws, thanks to a veto by Gov. Ron DeSantis this year, but plastic bags and Styrofoam are a different story. Plastic bag bans have been repealed by several Florida cities recently to avoid a legal battle with the Florida Retail Federation, which has threatened to sue local governments.

Last month, a Florida appeals court struck down a Coral Gables ordinance to ban Styrofoam containers from restaurants, supermarkets and other food establishments.

Coral Gables, though, is fighting the decision by appealing to the Florida Supreme Court, with its leaders saying that is what residents want.

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