City of Tampa makes progress in single-use plastic ban discussion

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa City Council is in the process of taking proactive steps in their discussion to hopefully ban single-use plastics in the city of Tampa.

Thursday, council passed a motion to have their legal department draft an ordinance that resembles Orlando’s single use plastic ban. They want legal to present that draft on March 5th.

An anti-plastic group is looking to ban single-use plastics on all City of Tampa property. The group leading the charge is Rise Above Plastics.

“If we can change patterns of behavior and habits of things that don’t really impact us, we can really reduce the amount of plastic that we are throwing away,” said Christian Leon, co-chairman of RAP.

Single-use plastics are the everyday plastic items someone only uses once and then throws it away. For example, plastic bags, forks and plastic bottles. Leon said the amount of plastic people use is negatively impacting the environment.

“At the moment the current count is that there are three trillion microplastics at the bottom of Tampa Bay,” Leon said. “There’s four billion floating microplastic particles floating in the bay and there are 3 trillion on the floor. All the fish we eat, all the water that goes into the gulf, it’s just filled with microplastics and being that we are a city that’s on the bay and that we care about the bay, we really want to help in any way that we can to make it better and cleaner.”

So the group’s taking their mission to Tampa’s city council. Thursday, the group told council why such an ordinance should exist.

Majority of city council agrees such ban should exist.

“What I’m looking at is seeing how other cities have proposed bans specifically on single-use plastics on city-owned property. What I’m not asking for is a ban for supermarket chains or department stores, but for example, Curtis Hixon Park, banning those kinds of plastics there on city property,” said Guido Maniscalco, Tampa city councilman.

Maniscalco fully supports Rise Above Plastics’ efforts. One of his main focuses Thursday will be to make sure the city can legally impose such ordinance.

“What I’m going to ask in the Thursday workshop is our legal department to come and give a staff report to see how other municipalities have done this,” Maniscalco said. “How it’s legally defensible if needed because if it’s something that would trigger a lawsuit we can move forward responsibly and begin like this.”

Thursday, the city’s legal department did express their reservations about the potential ban. They cited a supreme court lawsuit that’s disputing a single-use plastic ban in South Florida, as well as, waiting until legislative session is over in Tallahassee, as their reasons as to why council should not draft the ordinance.

However, council unanimously voted to still have legal draft the ordinance. They say they want to send a message to the City of Tampa, that this is a top priority.

Both Maniscalco and Leon want to work with council, businesses and legislature to eventually get a single-use plastic ban in Tampa.

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