By Ashley Dyer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Monday is National Recycling Day. To kick off the day, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried announced her plan to rid Florida of the use of polystyrene, known to many as Styrofoam.

Think of all the times you’ve ordered food at a restaurant and it’s come out to you in a foam to-go container. Or the number of times you’ve got a cup of Cuban coffee to go. It’s almost always served in a little foam cup. The bad news is these containers take at least 500 years to decompose.

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“It is our vision to begin a phase out reduction of polystyrene production use until we reach a zero within this decade,” said Fried.

She plans to phase out polystyrene products in 40,000 grocery stores, markets, and other businesses.

“This is a monumental change for consumers, health and the environment,” said Fried.

She said businesses will be required to submit reports on how much foam packaging they use each year, then reduce that amount until eventually it’s gone.

“There’s a lot of different products made from polystyrene plastics but the number one we see in our recycling facilities are the food containers,” said Shiraz Kashar, the community relations manager for Waste Management.

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Styrofoam products also aren’t accepted in the vast majority of recycling plants.

“It doesn’t always look like the Styrofoam you’re used to seeing, sometimes it can look like that,” said Kashar.

Kashar said it’s important everyone learns what you can and cannot recycle.  Otherwise, it creates a major delay at recycling facilities.

“The easiest way to know if plastic can be recycled – because there is a lot of plastic out there – it must have a narrow neck.  If the neck is smaller than the body then you can recycle,” he said.

The city of Coral Gables banned the use of polystyrene several years ago.  Now other cities and states are heading in the same direction.

“This is already doable you just must be thinking outside the box to protect consumers and the environment,” encourages Nikki Fried.

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She said many restaurants are already using healthier and more cost-effective alternatives to polystyrene.  Some of the alternative products are made from crops like sugarcane stalks, grown right here in Florida.