Nikki Fried mulls statewide ban of polystyrene takeout containers

The first step could be to reduce polystyrene usage by 25%.

Florida’s Agriculture Department is developing a “Styrofoam ban” that Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried hopes could start phasing out disposable takeout containers this year.

After leading a beach cleanup in Siesta Key on Friday, Fried announced the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is beginning the rule-making process that could start phasing out polystyrene food packaging by the end of 2021. The ban would affect 40,000 grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, and other businesses under her department’s purview.

The first step could be to reduce polystyrene usage by 25%.

“Our vision is to begin phased-in reduction in the amount of polystyrene food packaging that can be used until we reach zero within this decade,” Fried said.

Surfrider Foundation Florida Policy Manager Nicole de Venoge said polystyrene, commonly — but mistakenly — often known by the brand name Styrofoam, is a pollutant that breaks apart in the outdoors but is slow to biodegrade. After cups and containers float their way from storm drains into the ocean, sea life can mistakenly eat the floating material, and the polystyrene makes its way up the food chain.

“It just gets smaller and smaller,” de Venoge said. “It’s impossible to clean up.”

The choice of venue, Siesta Key, was one of the top beaches in the country, rated multiple times at No. 1 by Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman‘s Dr. Beach ranking. The level of trash and litter affects the rankings and those of other lists, which have proved highly effective tourism drivers to the region.

Southwest Florida’s shores also serve as home each year to thousands of sea turtle nests, and Mote Marine Laboratory says 521 sea nests have been observed on Siesta Key alone so far this year. Polystyrene waste poses particular threats to turtle populations.

Maine was the first state to enact a polystyrene ban. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection rules apply to restaurants, stores and numerous other eating establishments, like workplaces, schools, and hospital cafeterias. The rules, which exempt meat, poultry, seafood and eggs until July 2025, apply to products sold in Maine whether they are prepackaged out of state or not, Maine DEP said.

Maryland and Vermont have polystyrene limits in place, and three other states have bans on the way.

Some Florida cities have attempted to implement Styrofoam bans. However, they haven’t been without legal challenges, such as when a state appeals court struck down Coral Gables’ ban.

The Agriculture Department is seeking input from industries, business experts, and the public.

Fried, a statewide-elected official who is running in the Democratic primary to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ 2022 reelection bid, pointed to alternative packaging materials, like locally grown sugar cane and hemp fiber.

“Working together, this is a huge opportunity to create Florida jobs at Florida businesses using Florida-grown crops to create the next generation of products that is made in Florida,” Fried said.


Florida Politics reporter Jacob Ogles contributed to this story.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Alex

    September 24, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    “But but but Muh Feedumbs to pollute!!”

  • Ron Ogden

    September 24, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    It boggles the mind to see how stupid are Fried and her two acolytes, Downey and “Alex”.
    In the first place, those white plastic bins are not “Styrofoam”, they are something different entirely. Look up the science, idiots!
    In the second place, Styrofoam is essential insulation in buildings. Using it helps lower heating and cooling costs. We need MORE Styrofoam, idiots!
    In the third place, even if you actually did mean “Styrofoam” the truth is that Styrofoam is almost all “air”–by volume it is 98% hot air, just like Fried, Downey and “Alex.” Look it up idiots! Follow the science!

    • Alex

      September 24, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      Reading is fundamental, but you didn’t read it before running ignorant mouth.

      “polystyrene, commonly known by the brand name Styrofoam”

      You blew it, again.

      What kind of dumb error of logic or critical thinking skills – or out and out laziness before babbling nonsense will you make tomorrow?

      • Ron Ogden

        September 24, 2021 at 3:19 pm

        Here are the facts you brainless proggie: “These common disposable items are typically white in color and are made of expanded polystyrene beads. They do not provide the insulating value, compressive strength or moisture resistance properties of STYROFOAM products. In order to protect the Dow trademarked name “STYROFOAM”, such other material should be referred to by the generic term “foam.” —
        Formed polystyrene beads are not “Styrofoam,” you brainless twit. They are two different things. If you weren’t so trapped in your own allegiance to bad science in your proggie candidates, you would not have to suffer being exposed like this.
        Get it right or get off it!

        • Alex

          September 24, 2021 at 4:29 pm

          Blah blah blah.

          “Commonly known as”


          a. Belonging equally to or shared equally by two or more; joint: common interests.
          b. Of or relating to the community as a whole; public: for the common good.
          2. Widespread; prevalent: Gas stations became common as the use of cars grew.
          a. Occurring frequently or habitually; usual: It is common for movies to last 90 minutes or more.
          b. Most widely known; ordinary: the common housefly.

          Poor guy, haven’t done much reading in your life, obviously.

          • Ron Ogden

            September 25, 2021 at 7:01 am

            “Styrofoam” is a trademarked name, wrongly used by Nikita the candidate and aped by her tribe. (I really can’t imagine someone whose life is so barren that he commonly uses the word “styrofoam” in any context, except you, of course. I guess I can envision you standing like cartoon haunt in the middle of a road waving a sign and crying about styrofoam.) You are an icon of the lazy, irresponsible and “common” proggies that plague the left. No, neither Nikita nor you are going to do away with Styrofoam. Use a dictionary, attend to trademark law, and then blow another doobie. Maybe it will calm you down enough that an appreciation for accuracy will appear on your foggy horizon–although I would rate that about a -200 or so on the money line.

          • Ron Ogden

            September 25, 2021 at 8:13 am

            I see as of Saturday a.m. FLAPOL and presumably Fried have changed their language. Where do I send my invoice? Maybe I’ll send it to Alex. Hoot!

  • Cat

    September 24, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    Another idiotic Democrat control freak. It’s people who would vote for her who most likely are the litter pigs. 🐷

  • Tom Palmer

    September 25, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Microplastics. It’s what’s for dinner. Eat your fill, Ronnie.

  • Michael Paris

    September 25, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    Fried is an abject failure as Agriculture Commissioner. She is bought and paid for by Big Sugar and the Cannabis industry. She is corrupt, she lied to cops when her lobbyist boyfriend beat her in Ft. Lauderdale. But, she did get a free house in Tallahassee for it. Her finances are a tangled web of deceit and redactions/corrections while her net worth rose %400. She is mired in a long and costly ethics investigation. Neither her or Crist will be governor.

  • Watt

    September 26, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    I don’t know about food containers, but I wish they’d ban the styrofoam granules used as filler in the soil of outdoor plants sold at garden centers. I don’t like putting that stuff in the ground; it never decomposes.

    • Tyler

      October 4, 2021 at 4:33 pm

      That white stuff you’re talking about is Perlite NOT polystyrene… maybe learn something before speaking about something you dont know jack about…

  • Watt

    October 4, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Uh, be careful with the snotty know-it-all responses. Yes, some plants have crushable perlite in the dirt. But some do have styrofoam granules. One can tell the difference.

Comments are closed.


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