FL Ag Commissioner Fried hoping to phase out polystyrene, including Styrofoam

FL Ag Commissioner Fried hoping to phase out polystyrene, including Styrofoam
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 10:05 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is hoping to phase out polystyrene, which includes Styrofoam.

Fried says she wants to create a rule requiring businesses to submit reports on how much of the packaging they use, and then mandate businesses to bring down the amount incrementally.

She says the material is bad for human’s health and the environment.

“Polystyrene packaging, like Styrofoam, may be convenient, but it doesn’t mean it’s safe for our health, good for our environment, or the best option,” Fried said in a press conference earlier this week.

Styrofoam is a material many materials have already phased out.

At Metro Deli in downtown Tallahassee, cups are the last holdover; everything else is plastic or cardboard.

“We haven’t found something that’s as comparable with price and function,” said owner Rob Bazemore. “I’ve tried a few other cups that are really cool, there’s cups that are made out of biodegradable stuff, but they cost twice as much and work half as well.”

Bazemore says she’s not opposed to a switch, but the change needs to be economically viable.

“As soon as something’s available to us that would match up to us, we would gladly use them,” Bazemore said.

Styrofoam is not recycled in most areas, including Tallahassee and Leon County.

Kim Williams is the President of Marpan Supply and Recycling; he says his two plants save 200 million kilowatt hours each year.

“Which is equivalent to what FSU uses in power,” Williams said.

However, the single stream recycling plant does not include recycling.

“Styrofoam is a plastic material that’s injected with air to give it a foamy feel. So that air that’s in it makes it bigger without any material. When you start off with something that’s fairly rigid, and then you try to shrink it and it’s already hard, you end up with a very small reduction,” Williams said.

Williams says factors that go into that decision include the cost in the market and the volume of an object.

“To haul it from where it is to me, leaves me with a truck load of 4 or 5 tons maybe, compared to 15, 18 tons on other plastics, and it’s difficult then to ship it to another market for the material once you’ve processed it to a different level of cleanliness, and that’s what we do,” Williams said.

Commissioner Fried says the details on the proposed rule would evolve over a course of public input and hearings.

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