Polystyrene foam, commonly known as “Styrofoam”, is not easily recyclable and is a common source of plastic pollution on the City’s parks and beaches. It easily breaks down into smaller pieces, creating micro-plastic pollution which impacts wildlife and human health. In an effect to reduce the use of polystyrene in city parks and beaches the city is suggesting an ordinance that would prohibit vendors from using, selling or distributing polystyrene products.
Polystyrene foam food ware items include but are not limited to plates, cups, bowls, take-out containers, and coolers. See a few examples of polystyrene products below:
One of the 2021 City of Commission Environmental Leadership priorities was “Establishing plastic-reduction, reuse and recycling standards for individuals and groups utilizing City facilities.” This proposed ordinance is an incremental step in reducing the use of plastic at city facilities.
In 2008, the Florida legislature preempted the ability for municipalities to generally ban plastic bags, single-use plastics and polystyrene, however, this preemption does not prohibit the ability to regulate polystyrene products on city owned properties and the beach. Other cities that ban polystyrene on publicly owned lands include; the cities of Orlando, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach and Boynton Beach. In the 2021 legislative session, a preemption repeal bill was not able to be placed on a committee agenda in any of the committees. Therefore, it wasn’t even heard or considered.
The Environmental Stewardship Commission (ESC) has discussed this topic several times throughout the years and supports any prohibition of polystyrene products and is working on suggestions that will include stricter regulations.
The proposed new ordinance prohibits the City's use, sale or distribution of polystyrene foam products at parks, buildings, etc. and the beaches. It does not prohibit the use of these products by individuals in these areas (For example, an individual bringing a Styrofoam container to the park). It will affect concession sales at parks, food trucks on public properties, and special events by private organizations using public spaces (i.e. catered events at Adele Grage Center). After first read, the effective date was changed from January 1, 2022, to March 1, 2022. This was intended to allow time for education, outreach, and depletion of supplies.
The City Commission voted to approve the proposed ordinance on first read with some recommended changes that were approved on the second and final read. The modifications included changing the word “ban” to “prohibit” in the second whereas clause, changing the ordinance effective date from January to March 2022, adding language that prohibits the city from purchasing or using polystyrene foam products and clarifying language that allows individuals to use polystyrene products on public properties. For example, individuals may bring polystyrene foam products into a park for birthday parties, picnics, or City employees may bring to go containers into city buildings.