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Retailers Sue Coral Gables Over Styrofoam Ban

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Florida Retail Federation has filed a lawsuit that challenges a move by the city of Coral Gables to ban the use of polystyrene, better known as Styrofoam. The retailers group announced Monday that it had filed the lawsuit against the city in Miami-Dade County circuit court.

In part, the lawsuit points to the Legislature's approval in March of a bill that seeks to prevent local governments from regulating polystyrene, which is commonly used by restaurants.

The bill, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott, gives the power to regulate polystyrene to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, though local regulations in effect before 2016 would be allowed to continue.

The lawsuit alleges that the Coral Gables City Commission in February approved a polystyrene ban and later tried to make the ban retroactively effective to Dec. 8. It also alleges that the City Commission passed an ordinance in April that was another part of the effort to move forward with the ban.

The lawsuit, dated Thursday, seeks an injunction against the polystyrene ban.

"The city of Coral Gables is another example of a local government believing that the laws of the state of Florida don't apply to them in spite of the fact that the Florida Legislature passed a law this session that preempted municipalities from passing a local ordinance banning the use of polystyrene," Florida Retail Federation President and CEO Randy Miller said in a prepared statement Monday.

But on its website, the city said polystyrene can be ingested by wildlife and contributes to litter problems.

"The City Commission of the city of Coral Gables declares that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety, and welfare of its residents and visitors to reduce litter and pollutants on the land and in the waters of the city," the website said. "The goal of the ordinance is (to) promote replacing expanded polystyrene items with reusable, recyclable, or compostable alternatives whenever possible thus helping remove it from the waste stream."