Sustainability – St. Pete Plastics Ordinances – December 2018

December 2, 2018

ACTION ALERT:

The ordinance to ban single-use plastic straws and the use of Styrofoam will be read (and we believe voted on) on December 13th. Note: There are exceptions for medical facilities and people with disabilities in the ordinances.

As the League of Women Voters SPA, Sustainability Team previously reported, it’s time to move forward in St. Pete and take steps to remove single-use plastics from our waterways, streets, parks and our lives.  

We need you! Here’s what you can do.

  1. Write City Council in support TODAY and ask all of your friends to support as well. We have provided three sample letters below: environmental, economic, and outreach themed. Please choose the one you are most comfortable with. If you live in West or South St Pete, your email is especially important, to show this is important outside of downtown St. Pete too! Please tweak the letter to indicate where you live/work, naming your council district.  Send your email to this address and all members will receive it:  council@stpete.orgPlease consider cc’ing LWVSPA Sustainability Co-Chair Jen Underhill, just so we can track how many people have written. Or send Jen a follow-up email to let her know that you’ve sent a message to Council
  2. Show up and WEAR BLUE on Dec 13th
  3. SPEAK UP in support as a member of the community (if you live or work in St Pete, you may speak) on Dec 13th. If you are going to speak, please do so as a community member, not on behalf of the League. Please email Lisa Vanover if you have any questions and to let her know you will be speaking.
    • Dec 13th: you may speak during the “open comments” at the beginning of the council meeting OR during the time for community comment for this agenda item.
  4. Help with Outreach to Businesses! We especially need your help to get South and West St. Pete businesses on board. Here’s a good info sheet to hand out. Please email Lisa Vanover about this for more info.

EVENT:

Thursday, Dec 13, 2:45 pm, St Pete City Hall. Here’s the Facebook event. The Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition will post any updates as to the time it is being considered as updates are received.

Agenda Item – Public Hearing 7

Agenda Detail including Proposed Ordinance

————————–

SAMPLE LETTER #1 – SHORT/ENVIRONMENTAL

Dear Council Member,

I am pleased to hear that St. Petersburg may soon join the dozens of Florida municipalities who are working to ban single-use plastics. I believe that this is the next key step in promoting sustainability in our city.

I urge you to support the ordinance currently under consideration by the Council of the Whole to ban single-use plastic straws at food service establishments and to ban the use of Styrofoam products on City-owned property and at City-sponsored events.

I also urge you to ensure that these measures will be effective by having the same level of fines for similar violations and by committing the necessary resources to coordinate education efforts for local businesses.

Thank you for taking decisive action to reduce single-use plastics!

Also, I want to urge the Health, Energy, Resiliency, and Sustainability Committee to support the ordinance for the implementation of a fee for single-use plastic and paper shopping bags and move that forward to the full council in January.

Sincerely,

[INSERT YOUR NAME]
[INSERT YOUR ADDRESS]

SAMPLE LETTER #2 – ECONOMIC ARGUMENT

Dear Council Member,

I strongly support the environmental backbone of the ordinance banning single-use straws and polystyrene (Styrofoam) use in City parks. Today though, I write to call your attention to how this ordinance will level the playing field for our small businesses and make St. Petersburg more competitive nationally and specifically in marine and life sciences, a key sector in our Grow Smarter strategy and our overall community’s economic well-being.

Passing this Ordinance Will:

  • Level the Playing Field for All Businesses – Many individuals are gravitating already toward businesses which have moved to the voluntary plan. That’s great for those early adopters. But, what does that do for the small businesses which haven’t yet heard about or committed to this movement? It creates a hindrance to their success. Today, the Council has the opportunity to level the playing field. All businesses should have the opportunity to get informed about this critical work and compete effectively. They can do that with strong, systemic outreach by the City and community organizations and a level playing field created by these bans, in effect after the scale-up year.
  • Help Level the Playing Field for St Pete to Compete with Other Growing Cities Nationally – We, as St Pete, will be more competitive with other cities when it comes to attracting businesses and talent. Many large companies want to see demonstrated commitment to sustainability, as they know their talent pool and customer base cares about being situated in a locale with a demonstrated commitment to the environment. Passing the ordinance would be one more way for St Pete to be competitive to attract these companies and talent.
  • Help St Pete Continue Strong Economic Growth in the Marine and Life Sciences Sector of our Grow Smarter Strategy – We already have nationally-recognized institutions and companies in marine and life sciences, with a total economic impact of  more than $250 million in gross county product. For St Pete to continue to attract these companies, we must be at the forefront of implementing best practices to protect our peninsula on a peninsula. This ordinance will help us compete with prominent coastal cities by ensuring our environment flourishes.

I hope you will agree that we cannot afford to be a City that says we are a strong environmental leader, but does not act on it. Jobs and families will be impacted, in addition to health of our Bay, Gulf, and wildlife. Let’s make sure we are creating positive impacts.

Please vote Yes on this ordinance to demonstrate that St. Pete is committed to a level playing field, committed to best practices, and is ready to complete in a blue economy.

Sincerely,

[INSERT YOUR NAME]
[INSERT YOUR ADDRESS]

SAMPLE LETTER #3 – ENVIRONMENTAL/OUTREACH COMMITMENT

Dear Council Member,

I am pleased to hear that St. Petersburg may soon join the dozens of Florida municipalities who are working to ban single-use plastics. I believe that this is the next key step in promoting sustainability in our city. I urge you to support the ordinance currently under consideration by the Council of the Whole to ban single-use plastic straws at food service establishments and to ban the use of Styrofoam products on City-owned property and at City-sponsored events.

I know outreach to businesses will be a key component of the success of these ordinances. All businesses need to be informed of the alternatives to plastic straws and Styrofoam, so they are competing on a level playing field.  I write to commit to you that I will spend at least __ hours in 2019 supporting the outreach to businesses, in coordination with the City and community organizations to make this effort a success.

Sincerely,

[INSERT YOUR NAME]
[INSERT YOUR ADDRESS]

 

—————————————————-

WHAT’S THE ISSUE

Plastic bags, straws, and utensils do not have to be part of our daily lives.

Who profits from single-use plastics? Big oil and big gas! That’s what plastics is made from.

More oil means:

  • more climate change,
  • more refineries in low-income neighborhoods,
  • more negative impacts on at-risk communities from climate change – hurricanes, heat stroke, more humidity – more mold, flooding, etc.
  • more economic instability,
  • more refugees from climate change, and
  • more abuse of eminent domain take of private property

The LWVSPA Sustainability Action Team has joined in calling for a ban on plastic straws, utensils, and plastic bags, with exceptions for hospitals, nursing homes, other medical facilities and people with disabilities, and with a one year compliance period on the ban, during which time there would be a voluntary “by request only” provision of straws. This compliance period will allow businesses time to adapt.

BACKGROUND

Suncoast Rise Above Plastics. Suncoast Surfrider, the Suncoast Sierra Club, Chart 411, Environment Florida, and other environmental organizations have been working hard to get the City of St. Petersburg to adopt a ban on straws and other single-use plastics, and we appreciate their leadership. We are excited to partner with these organizations to protect our waters and our economy.
Additionally, the No Straws St Pete program, supported by I Love the Burg, has achieved strong success, with many downtown businesses signing on to their voluntary program; we applaud their efforts, and we appreciate the businesses that have stepped up. But, it’s time for the next step.
There are other good options for straws now: paper, metal, reusable plastic. They are becoming more affordable. Seattle just fully implemented its ban on straws and plastic utensils because they determined enough other affordable options exist, which means businesses would not be burdened by a ban. Other coastal cities in Florida have already banned straws.
And businesses themselves are taking action. IKEA  is no longer providing plastic straws, Starbucks is going to stop using them by 2020, along with Royal Caribbean and other major corporations, as well as all of our local restaurants participating in No Straws St Pete.
Progress is happening, we need an all-out effort to get to a ban.