Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has started a rulemaking process to phase out the use of polystyrene products throughout the state. In a press release, the agency indicated that hemp could be used as an alternative source to replace the packaging.
Fried, a Democrat who is challenging Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, said the phase-out “is a huge opportunity to create Florida jobs, at Florida businesses, using Florida-grown crops to create next-generation products that are made in Florida.” Last year, about 290 acres of hemp were planted throughout the state, according to the Agriculture Department. The agency also said the replacement products for polystyrene could be manufactured from sugarcane bagasse, which is also grown in Florida.
“Polystyrene may be convenient, but there is a hidden danger to public health from these disposable consumer products. Chemicals in polystyrene are not only linked to human and animal health concerns, but because these petroleum-based products take at least 500 years to decompose, their negative effects continue long after they’re thrown away.” — Fried in a press release
Justin Bloom, founder of Suncoast Waterkeeper, described the reforms as “bold, creative, and much-needed. I think there’s a thirst in our community and other communities for actions like this,” he said in a statement. “We’re limited by a legislature that is arguably captured by polluters and industry, and it won’t allow communities to embrace protective efforts to ban polystyrene.”
The phase-out is expected to begin next year with a maximum allowable amount of polystyrene to be sold or distributed decreasing each year.
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