The Gainesville City Commission voted unanimously to pass an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags and foam containers in Gainesville Thursday evening.  By Aug. 1, businesses will no longer be able to give customers foam products like cups, plates or to-go boxes or any plastic bag with handles, like the ones at Walmart and Publix.

The idea for the ban came about a year and a half ago when the commission adopted a zero-waste initiative. City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos, who advocated for the ordinance, said the decision is one of the first steps for Gainesville to be waste-free by 2040.

Gainesville will join communities like Coral Gables, Florida, which was the first city in the state to implement this ban in 2016. Coral Gables received pushback when the Florida Retail Federation filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutional.

Hayes-Santos said he’s not worried about a lawsuit. “If retail associations want to sue the city to try to pollute our community more, I’d be happy to take on that fight,” he said. If businesses don’t follow suit, each citation will cost $250. Enforcement will be mostly complaint-driven, Hayes-Santos said. When someone complains that a business isn’t following the ordinance, code enforcement will issue the fine.

The transition to sustainable products in 2017 wasn’t exactly easy for Loosey’s, a Gainesville bar and restaurant that has two locations, because they cost about three times more than traditional products, said Joy Hughes, Loosey’s co-owner. Foam containers are the industry standard, making it the cheapest option, said Robert Cason, a district sales representative at Cheney Brothers Inc., a Florida food supplier. Foam is cheap and efficient. It doesn’t leak, and is well insulated, unlike some paper alternatives.

Cason supplies nearly 60 businesses in Gainesville with plastic products. The typical plastic bag costs anywhere from one to four cents each while paper or biodegradable plastic alternatives will cost about 25 to 40 cents each. Cason said that if businesses don’t start planning for the ban soon, the price increase could potentially put them out of business.

Cheney Brothers Inc. stocks about 17,000 items ranging from cleaning chemicals to pizza dough in its Ocala warehouse. Cason said the new ordinance won’t affect how he and Cheney Brothers Inc. do business. As the Aug. 1 deadline looms, Cason will increase his inventory of alternatives and work with businesses to follow the new rules.

To read the full story, visit