The Complicated Landscape of Plastic Bans in United States

The Complicated Landscape of Plastic Bans in United States

A battle over plastic—a material so prolific the UN calls the 90 percent of it that ends up as trash a pollution crisis—is under way in Florida. 

Coral Gables, a small city of 51,000 people just south of Miami, wants to ban polystyrene from restaurants and grocery stores. The Florida Retail Federation does not, and an appeals court ruling delivered yesterday says they can keep the plastic product, in part thanks to a 2016 state rule that prevents cities from regulating how polystyrene is used.

The court battle demonstrates how cities and states are increasingly clashing over whether it’s legal to ban plastic.

Image Credit: Brian T. Jacobs, National Geographic Staff

Sources: Plastic Pollution Coalition,, Surfrider Foundation

California, New York, and hundreds of municipalities in the U.S. ban or fine the use of plastic in some way. Seventeen other states, however, say it’s illegal to ban plastic items, effectively placing a ban on a ban. This kind of legal maneuvering is booming. Four states created preemptions this year alone with two only narrowly failing in South Carolina and Alabama.

Often, efforts to preempt plastic bans are aided by the plastics industry, which wants to ensure its products remain widely used.

For the full article, visit National Geographic.

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