Saint Petersburg city council is meeting on December 13th to vote on an ordinance that will protect Tampa Bay’s waters from single use plastics pollution.

The World Health Organization estimates there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by mid-century. St. Petersburg city council is considering an ordinance that will:

  1. Expand an existing city ordinance prohibiting the use of expanded polystyrene (e.g. styrofoam) on public property.

  2. Ban businesses from distributing single-use plastic straws, with exemptions for medical necessity.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS, aka Styrofoam™)

One year after a policy is adopted, no Styrofoam™ would be allowed in City facilities, by City contractors, and on City right-of-way like parks, sidewalk cafes, and food trucks operating in the right-of-way. This does not affect grocery stores or areas of commercial businesses on private property - although the hope is that they will transition voluntarily upon a successful program.

The following persons would not be allowed to distribute EPS products on city-owned property or rights-of-way:

  • Assembly permittees

  • Minor easement permittees   

  • City contractors

  • Pushcart vending permittees

  • Sidewalk café permittees

  • Mobile food establishment permittees

  • Food truck rally permittees

  • Park permittees

  • Outdoor public


  • The distribution of EPS on private property would not be regulated. These specific examples are exempt from the potential EPS regulation:

  • Pre-packaged foods that food service providers distribute to their customers and that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service provider

  • Expanded polystyrene products used for the storage of raw meat, pork, poultry, fish, and seafood products by a food service provider

  • Any city contract, lease, or concession agreement entered into prior to the effective date

Plastic Straws

For the first year after the policy is adopted, straws can be given to customers who request one, and for all drive through food orders. After 1 year, no single-use plastic straws are allowed. Alternative and eco-friendly products are required, such as straws made of paper, metal, pasta, or other biodegradable material.


  • Customers with a physical or medical need requiring the use of a single-use plastic drinking straw.

Why we think single-use plastics reduction is good for the Sunshine City:

Easier for businesses

  • Meaningful policies level the playing field. It means you don’t have to individually risk patron backlash, because all of your colleagues are held to the same standard.

  • Commitment to the environment has the power to sway product purchase for 45% of consumers.

  • 66% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable brands.

  • Consumer brands that demonstrate commitment to sustainability outperform those that don’t.

  • If you take some additional steps, it’s a great opportunity to let your business shine. Check out our Ocean Friendly Restaurant certification.

  • There are lots of alternative straw options out there. We compiled a list of just a few here.

Voluntary-only measures are not effective

  • Most litter is accidental. Preventing the widespread usage of single-use trash is the key to reducing litter.

  • Organizations and agencies across the globe have spent millions of hours on public education focused on litter prevention. That has not come close to solving our plastic addiction.  It’s time for strong policy.

  • Right here in Pinellas County we’ve experienced voluntary-only measures failing our residents and our environment. Treasure Island promised to remain vigilant on single-use plastic straws through voluntary-only measures, yet those same plastic straws remain a top 10 item from beach cleanups.

What you can dO 

  1. Show up and make a public comment at the December 13th City Council meeting, City Hall at 3pm or 6pm. While the council meeting will still begin at 3pm, the full hearing has been scheduled for 6pm. If you'd like to speak and cannot attend at 6pm, you can still attend the 3pm session, but that open forum only lasts 30min (from 3pm - 3:30pm). As each speaker only gets 3 minutes to speak, only 8-10 speakers will have an opportunity at that time. All other speakers will have to wait until 6pm. 

    In order to make a public comment, you will need to fill out a yellow slip and turn it into the clerk. On the slip, you can elect to:

    a. Speak for 3 minutes.
    b. Have your comment read out loud.
    c. Stand and wave in support. 

    Contact us if you'd like help crafting your talking points.

  2. Call city council at 727-893-7117, thank them for considering the ordinance, and state your support.

  3. Email city council at Thank them for considering the ordinance, and state your support. 

  4. Share this information with your friends!