Sarasota to vote on banning foam food containers

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Sarasota may be next to join the growing list of Florida cities to restrict certain single-use plastics.

A proposed ordinance would ban polystyrene products, also known as Styrofoam, from all businesses that lease or rent land on city-owned property or that have a sidewalk cafe permit. Plastic straws would only be offered upon request.

“I don’t think they’re necessary at all," said Sarasota resident Leslee Asenov ahead of next week's vote.

City commissioners are expected to make a decision on the ordinance that resembles the one recently passed by the city of St. Petersburg.

“It’s a small part of the solution, a small part of the conversation, but we are seeing massive plastic pollution problems both locally and globally,” said Stevie Freeman-Montes, Sarasota's Sustainability Manager.

The proposal cites a 2015 study conducted by Mote Marine Lab that found microplastics inside more than a hundred dead sea turtle hatchlings.

According to Freeman-Montes, cracking down on single-use plastics like straws and Styrofoam containers and cups can be a good start toward making a difference.

However, critics have argued alternative materials, like paper products, can be more expensive and put a strain on businesses. Others say there are other plastic products that have a greater impact on the environment.

The city has been evaluating the benefits and implications of the proposed ordinance for months.

Freeman-Montes expects commissioners to make a final decision Monday.