Thursday vote could mean end of plastic straws in St. Pete

Plastic straws and polystyrene containers could be seeing the end of their days in beach communities.

St. Petersburg may be the next city to say no to certain plastics.

City council will vote Thursday on an ordinance that would phase out the single-use plastics over the course of a year.

If the ordinance is approved, during the first year, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and fast-food chains would only be allowed to provide plastic straws if a customer specifically asks for one.

Drive-thrus would be the only exception to the rule.

By the second year, plastic straws would be banned and so would polystyrene containers, commonly used for to-go orders.

However, plastic straws would be available for customers who require one for medical reasons.

"I knew that with this being such a huge problem, there's something St. Pete can do about it," said Gina Driscoll, a city council member who has been spearheading the ban on plastics. "As a coastal community, we really have a responsibility to take whatever steps we can to take care of the environment."

Businesses that do not comply would get a written warning. If in 30 days they fail to comply, a $40 fine would be issued. A third violation would lead to an $80 fine.

After the third violation, the business would be fined daily until it fixes the problem.

The city council meeting starts at 3 p.m. Thursday at St Petersburg City Hall.