Leaders debate plastic straw ban in St. Pete, will discuss alternatives

Pinellas County

Leaders are pushing to get rid of plastic straws at bars across Pinellas County.

St. Petersburg restaurateur Robin King, of Three Birds Tavern, is hoping her efforts to stop using plastic straws will help the environment.

“I think when they get their glass for the first time with no straw, they’re taken back a little bit. But I think when they truly understand, then they’re more apt to go along with it rather than be dissatisfied,” she said.

She’s one of the dozens of business owners in St. Petersburg taking part in the “No Straw” campaign. St. Pete city leaders kicked off the initiative Tuesday morning.

Gulfport officials plan to discuss a ban next week.

Other coastal cities have already made the switch.

Treasure Island’s Ka’Tiki Bar has been using plastic straws for the last year.

City leaders made it voluntary.

“We also have people who want to have drinks here, go to the beach and then we’re responsible for people even though they’re no longer in our establishment,” said Kyle Toops with Ka’Tiki.

Caddy’s On The Beach was using paper straws, but discovered it didn’t work too well with frozen drinks. They found a biodegradable straw that breaks down faster than plastic. 

The only debate for business owners is the cost.

“The cost has gone up, we estimate, by 200 percent. But it’s well worth it when you think about how lucky we are to be where we’re at and do business where we’re at. We have to take care of it,” said Caddy’s Assistant Manager Andy Carpenter.

Gina Driscoll, the St. Petersburg City Councilwoman behind the “No Straws” initiative, will continue to discuss the issue with the Health, Energy, Resiliency and Sustainability Committee this Thursday.

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