A Florida appellate court struck down a ban on expanded polystyrene food packaging in Coral Gables, giving a victory to industry groups that argue that state governments, not cities, should make decisions on banning or regulating packaging.
The unanimous Aug. 14 decision from Florida's Third District Court of Appeals ruled that state laws prevent cities from passing their own local ordinances around EPS packaging like trays and cups.
The Florida Retail Federation suggested the ruling would actually go further, and prevent cities there from banning or regulating plastic bags and other packaging.
The decision is the latest skirmish in a battle that's playing out in state legislatures and courts around the country over what are called preemption laws.
Industry groups like the American Progressive Bag Alliance argue that packaging regulations should be left to state legislatures, while environmental and local government groups argue that cities should retain the power to make decisions and not be preempted.
Coral Gables, a beachfront community neighboring Miami that passed a ban in EPS foam containers in early 2016, said in a statement on Twitter that it was "very disappointed with the court's ruling" and was considering its next steps.
"The city remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting our environment, which includes eliminating the use of harmful items like polystyrene and plastic bags," it wrote. "The city also remains wholly committed to defending home rule & local control."
The court's decision did not turn on the pros or cons of EPS packaging, but rather on the legal question of how much power cities should have.
The appellate court said that three statutes passed by Florida's legislature limit municipal powers. Most immediately, it said a 2016 law specifically prevents cities from regulating EPS.