Gainesville’s Single-Use Plastic and Polystyrene Ban goes in effect August 1, 2019

In an effort to improve our environmental ethic and sustainability practices, the City Commission unanimously approved to ban the use of expanded polystyrene containers and single use carry out plastic bags by food service providers and retail establishments on January 17, 2019. The goal of the city is to replace these items with reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives.



A program partnership towards a zero waste community

Our goal is to foster collaboration between Alachua County and the city of Gainesville to support policies needed to dramatically reduce waste and encourage citizens to rethink waste material flows.

Zero Waste means reducing consumption, reusing products & responsible recycling – with nothing going to landfill or incineration.



Treating waste as a resource depends on the ability to easily separate and manage waste.
So where do we begin?

By analyzing existing policies, systems, programs and infrastructure, our plan is to identify the greatest potential waste for reduction and diversion opportunities, based on the status of waste reduction and recycling in the County and City.

to move forward we must first look back


With your help we can turn a visionary goal into a plan of action.

Waste prevention starts with you: in the home, office, restaurant – even on the road.

Waste materials get into the environment and then stay there forever. We need to reduce the amount of plastic that we’re putting into our environment, and we have to take these steps now to protect the city for not only us but for future generations.

– Adrian Hayes-Santos
Gainesville City Commissioner

Plastic and Polystyrene
Ban FAQs

The commission will examine amending the current ordinance (Ordinance No. 170487) or adding an additional ordinance to include the ban of plastic straws. Plastic straws are not included in the current ordinance. Parameters for enforcement and the possibility of exemptions and hardship waivers will come back before the Commission.

Businesses that may need this exception should email:

What is expanded polystyrene?

Expanded polystyrene is commonly referred to as Styrofoam, but this is actually the proprietary name of a polystyrene product.

What constitutes a “single use” plastic bag?

Single use bag refers to a bag provided to a customer typically at the point of sale for the purpose of transporting items and goods.

Why was this done?

Expanded polystyrene containers and single use plastic bags are detrimental to the environment. They don’t fully degrade, overburden landfills and introduce unsafe chemicals into the environment. Additionally, these materials become liter and consistently create hazards for aquatic and land animals due to ingestion. Polystyrene and plastic bags constitute a significant portion of litter in our streets, parks, public places and waterways.

When will the Plastic Bag and Polystyrene Ban take effect?

This ordinance became effective immediately upon adoption, but provides for an implementation period that will allow retail establishment the opportunity to expend current inventory and transition to reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives. The city will not begin enforcement until Aug. 1, 2019.

Can retailers/food service providers sell single use bags or polystyrene?

No. Food service providers and retail establishments will not be permitted to sell or use these items.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. While discontinuation of all use of expanded polystyrene containers and single use plastic bags are strongly encouraged, the ordinance does not specifically apply to:

  • Polystyrene containers used for prepackaged food that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service provider or retail establishment
  • Polystyrene containers used to package raw meat or seafood from a butcher case or similar refrigerated display.
  • Compostable bags (ASTM D6400 specifications), produce bags, prescription drug bags, dry cleaning bags, door hanger bags, newspaper bags and garbage bags.
  • Reusable bags with handles made of a durable material specifically designed for multiple, long-term use

What about special event vendors?

Any special event permittees or any vendor operating under a city permit will not be permitted to sell, use or provide food or drink in single use plastic bags or polystyrene containers.

What are the enforcement penalties?

The city may enforce this article by civil citation of $250.00


General Policy Committee Meeting


28 March


GRU Multi-Purpose Room

301 SE 4th Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601


Hear a presentation by city staff regarding the Plastic Ban Ordinance Education Campaign and a continued Plastic Ban Ordinance “Hardship” component discussion.

City Commission General Policy Committee


14 February


1:00 PM - 2:00 PM


GRU Multi-Purpose Room

301 SE 4th Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601


The subject of straws will be one of the items for discussion during this Gainesville City Commission meeting.

Commission Meeting on Single-Use Ban


06 December


Gainesville City Hall

200 E University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601


The Gainesville City Commission will be discussing a proposed single-use plastic bag and Styrofoam ban.

UF Collection Day


05 December


7:30 AM - 1:00 PM


O’Connell Center Parking Lot

250 Gale Lemerand Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611


For UF students looking to dispose of reusable or recyclable items before the end of the semester, come to the NW Corner of the lot, drop off any household items, toiletries, gently used cloths, non-perishable food, school and office supplies, electronics and household hazardous waste.

Zero Waste Community Meeting


13 November


6:30 PM - 8:00 PM


Eastside Rec Center

2841 E University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32641


There will be a public meeting at Eastside Rec Center to discuss strategies to reduce waste in our community. Join city and county staff as we explore what Zero Waste can mean for our city.

Eco-Industrial Park Groundbreaking Ceremony


24 October


10:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Leveda Brown Environmental Park

5115 NE 63rd Ave
Gainesville, FL 32609


The ceremony will be held to the immediate East of the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station. The eco-industrial park is a manufacturing and research park for businesses that create value-added products from materials that would otherwise be destined for the landfill.

Joint City of Gainesville / Alachua County Commission Meeting


06 August


3:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Alachua County Administration Building

12 SE 1st Street
Gainesville, FL 32601


At this joint City-County Commission Meeting we will discuss the latest developments in our Zero Waste Initiative.

view or download documents

Docs & Presentations

Keep up with our progress as we discuss & develop this program together - we welcome citizen feedback.
download pdf01/03/2019

City of Gainesville Plastic Bag and Styrofoam Ban - Ordinance No. 170487