In May, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill preventing local governments from banning plastic straws, now Leon County is trying to do just that. Tuesday, the county commissioners met to discuss options to reduce or eliminate the use of single-use plastic straws.
As years go by individuals, businesses, and governments are finding ways to be more energy and environmentally friendly. Lately, counties throughout Florida have been banning use of single-use plastic straws some including plastic bags, and Styrofoam in certain situations.
County Commissioner Kristin Dozier says personally the plastic or paper straw debate doesn’t affect her.
"I gave up straws years ago just on my own, trying to reduce my own waste and consumption," says Dozier.
She attributes it to how she grew up.
"My mom always used cloth napkins versus paper napkins. I mean there was always that education growing up that we should use less if possible."
Although it doesn’t affect her she knows that not everybody is fine with paper straws.
"It’s a challenge when we talk about banning them outright I think because there’s a personal choice in that equation," said Dozier.
And aside from being a preference the cost, and necessity of having straws also change her opinion on an outright ban.
"I am concerned about the effect on small business if we did an outright ban even if we faze that in. And there is something about ADA accessibility there are people that require straws and they should have access to them if they don’t bring their own," said Dozier.
Nick Lowe a regional director for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association agrees that switching from plastic to paper could cause a large impact on small businesses.
"The profit margins are very very low in the restaurant segment. And a lot of people don’t understand that, I mean your average restaurateur is probably making somewhere between 6 to 8%," explained Lowe.
To not cause the strong impacts Commissioner Dozier wants to not mandate the businesses to do so but rather embolden them to.
"I think the incentive based might be the way to go at this point as we see those new technologies come in and the price start to drop," suggested Dozier.
She also wants to try and find a way to cut down the costs to businesses that choose to make the transition. For now, the county is going to stop using plastic straws during county and sponsored events. And educate the public on why it’s important to reduce single-use plastic straws.
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