YOU can help pass a law in your local municipality.
There are some preemptions in Florida, which means that your municipality is banned from banning certain plastic/foam items (containers, cups, polystyrene foam, bags). But, there are 2 items that your municipality can completely ban (prohibit from being sold, distributed) because they are not preempted. Utensils and straws are not preempted. You can ban the other items (containers, cups, polystyrene foam, bags) on public property only (city buildings, city parks and beach, city events, etc). Read more on preemptions here.
Decide on your goal, identify your decision maker (elected officials), and plan how you will influence them. Some municipalities are easier than others, depending on how your elected officials already feel about the issue. Sometimes, it can be as easy as emailing/calling your mayor and/or city commissioner and asking. You can find your city and county commissioners through a simple Google search. You can also find your city website here.
For more on planning your campaign strategy, go here. View sample Florida legislation here. Ordinances can be enacted with a period of education before enforcement. For example, one year of education before citations/fines are given.
Options! In your city/county, you can:
- Pass an ordinance prohibiting certain single-use plastic foodware on municipal property. The preemptions still allow cities/counties to ban items on their own property. Your city can specify the items they want to prohibit in their ordinance. For example, you can pass an ordinance prohibiting single use expanded polystyrene foam food containers and cups on city/county property, in city/county facilities, and with city/county contracts/events. The Village of Miami Shores chose to pass an ordinance prohibiting single-use plastic bottled water on city property, city facilities, and city contracts/events.
- Pass a plastic straw ordinance (A plastic straw shall not be used, sold, or distributed in any commercial establishment, on city property, or by any special even permittee, with some exceptions). Your city may wish to consider a “Straws by Request Only” ordinance. This means that customers only get a straw if they ask for one, which is a cost saving for restaurants and also takes into account persons with disabilities.
- Pass an ordinance banning all intentional balloon releases. You can also ban the use of balloons on outdoor city property/parks/beaches. Boynton Beach and Boca Raton chose to ban polystyrene foam on city property, and they banned balloons and confetti on all outdoor city property/parks/beach. Palm Beach Gardens passed a resolution to prohibit balloons and confetti on city property.
- Pass an ordinance completely banning single-use plastic utensils (forks, knives, spoons, stirrers). This means that stores would not be allowed to sell them, and restaurants would not be allowed to provide them. Your city can completely ban plastic utensils because there is no preemption concerning plastic utensils.
- Pass an “opt-in” or “by request only” law for delivery/take out utensils. This would mean that a customer would have to specifically opt-in or request plastic utensils instead of automatically receiving them with every food order. This SAVES businesses money while also reducing plastic waste. Many delivery and take-out orders are eaten in the home, where customers already have utensils. See the City of Gainesville “By Request Only” ordinance.
- Prohibit specific single-use plastics/foam in special event permits: Hollywood’s Special Events Permit Application has this language: “The City’s plastic and Styrofoam ordinance passed in 2020, §97.08-97.12, prohibits the use of polystyrene (“Styrofoam”), single-use plastic and bioplastic food service products. This includes eating and serving utensils, tableware, containers, lids, plates, bowls, cups, straws, wrappings, bottles, bags or other packaging and all similar articles used for transporting or consuming prepared food or beverages • Reusable, compostable, or biodegradable materials may be used as alternatives such as paper, bamboo, and other plant-based fiber items • A responsible products catalogue can be provided to assist in your sourcing of these items.” See Hollywood’s Special Event Permit Application here. You could also include this in your city’s pavilion rental applications/contracts.
- Other ideas: Some cities in the US are passing laws that would require an extra charge for these items (the customer pays the charge for the utensils, for example, and it doesn’t cost the business owner any money). These laws promote personal responsibility by encouraging customers to bring reusable items. Some cities are simply passing laws that these extra items can’t be given unless the customer requests them (“by request only” or “opt in” policy). This also doesn’t cost business owners anything extra (these laws save money and reduce waste).
Find out who your mayor and city council members are. Contact them.
Are the majority of your city council members supportive of an ordinance? Ask them to add this to an upcoming city meeting agenda.
Find out if your city has a Sustainability Advisory Committee or Sustainability Coordinator. Contact them and discuss your suggestions. Perhaps you can speak at an upcoming meeting.
If you do not have a majority of council members on your side, you will need to build community support and organize a coalition to put pressure on your elected officials.
Your school/school system might sign a multi-year contract for products. If so, you can work on asking them to commit to green choices for their next contract.
Climate Action Plans
Is your city or county revising their Climate Action Plan? Ask them to include reduction of plastic waste as a goal in the Climate Action Plan.
Broward County has just included reduction of single-use plastics as part of their Climate Action Plan: https://www.broward.org/Climate/Documents/2020CCAP_draft.pdf
You will see that item on page 13, item number 17: “Set plastic waste reduction goal. Set a plastic waste reduction goal and set a policy to reduce single-use plastics and polystyrene foam, on County property, in County contracts and at County events. Advocate permitting of local regulation of single-use plastics and polystyrene foam.”
What is Zero Waste?
Ask your city/county to move towards Zero Waste. Read more information about Zero Waste cities here.
Read GAIA’s Zero Waste Master Plan and their recommended steps for cities.
The City of Gainesville has a Zero Waste Committee! Visit its page here.
Reduce unwanted waste: Customers need to exercise their right to #SkipTheStuff. Restaurants should provide accessories for takeout or delivery only if the customer requests them. It’s a simple solution that will save restaurants money and reduce waste.
Pass a resolution on statewide plastics policy!
Want to help with state strategy? Ask your city commission to pass a resolution supporting statewide plastics legislation and/or home rule (removal of preemptions) on plastics regulation. Local resolutions are a clear expression of the opinions of coastal communities, including business leaders in those communities and local elected officials. They send a message up the political chain, and can be influential in helping state-level elected officials and even Members of Congress better understand what their constituents want. Resolutions matter, and you can ask your city to pass a resolution in support of statewide plastics legislation and/or support of home rule.
ALSO ASK YOUR CITY/COUNTY TO ADD REMOVAL OF PLASTICS PREEMPTIONS ON THEIR LIST OF LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES.
Many municipalities are passing laws to regulate single-use plastics
Many cities, states, and entire nations have passed legislation to eliminate certain single-use plastics. 29 municipalities in Florida have passed plastic straw laws, and at least 30 municipalities in Florida have passed other types of plastic/foam ordinances/policies. Cities and counties are passing bans, and also passing ordinances restricting single-use plastic and polystyrene foam in city events, meetings, parks, beaches, and pavilion rentals. Ordinances can be enacted with a long period of education before an enforcement date. These local actions send a message to Tallahassee that residents of Florida care about this issue.
Municipalities in Florida With Plastic/Foam Ordinances
Cities/counties in FL with plastic straw ordinances:
- Ft Lauderdale
- Miami Beach
- Hallandale Beach
- Dania Beach
- Lauderdale by the Sea
- Pompano Beach
- Deerfield Beach
- Fort Myers Beach
- Delray Beach
- Wilton Manors
- West Palm Beach
- Ormond Beach
- Key West
- St Pete
- Palmetto Bay
- Sunny Isles
- Marco Island
- Key Biscayne
- Oakland Park
- Palm Beach
- Alachua County
- Broward County (effective June 1, 2022)
Cities in FL with other types of plastic/foam ordinances/policies which also may include straws and/or foam and/or utensils etc:
- Hollywood (no plastic or foam east of intracoastal), Hollywood also passed single use plastics and foam on city property/events/contracts ordinance in 2020.
- Deerfield Beach
- Miami Beach
- Bal Harbour
- North Bay Village
- St Pete
- Miami Dade County Parks and Beaches (polystyrene foam)
- Key Biscayne beaches and parks (polystyrene foam)
- Bay Harbour Islands
- Village of Miami Shores- plastic water bottles city property
- Orange County, Florida. No EPS foam in any new county contracts, including convention center.
- Dania Beach (foam ordinance city property passed July 2020)
- Tampa (city resolution banning foam passed Sept 2020)
- Fort Lauderdale (foam ordinance on city property)
- Palm Beach Gardens (polystyrene resolution city property and contracts) Jan 2021
- Sunny Isles Beach
- Boynton Beach (polystyrene foam, balloons, confetti on city property)
- Winter Park
- Tallahassee (single-use plastic foodware/drinkware on city property/city events)
- Boca Raton (foam ordinance city events/vendors, balloons, confetti)
- Seminole County (single-use plastics county property- staff/vendors)
- Palm Beach Gardens (balloons, confetti, glitter city property)
- Atlantic Beach (polystyrene foam, city property/beach)
- Broward County (effective June 1, 2022- Administrative Code to restrict polystyrene foam, straws, stirrers on county property/contracts, and a ban on use/release of confetti, sky lanterns)
- Gainesville (The City of Gainesville passed a Skip the Stuff/By Request Only ordinance. Prepared food providers shall not provide single-use plastic food accessories (such as plastic utensils, condiment packets, portion cups) for dine-in, take-out or delivery, unless the single-use food accessory is specifically requested by the customer or is provided at a customer self-serve station. This “By Request Only” plastics ordinance was passed June 2, 2022 and will go into effect September 2, 2022.) This ordinance reduces plastic and also saves restaurants money because they do not purchase as many unnecessary accessories. Ordinance also includes ban on polystyrene foam on city property, glitter, and balloon releases.
HOME RULE VIDEO (SPANISH):
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Our current state balloon release law unfortunately allows individuals to litter up to 10 balloons in a 24 hour period. In addition, it exempts “biodegradable” balloons which can still harm wildlife. The law needs to be updated. In the meantime, many Florida municipalities are either banning the intentional release of all balloons, or banning balloons on all outdoor public property. You can ask your city council or county commission for an ordinance.
See Boynton Beach polystyrene foam, balloons, and confetti ordinance: https://boyntonbeach.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=11057&MeetingID=393
Exciting News about Polystyrene Rulemaking from the Florida Department of Agriculture!
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has begun rulemaking to phase out the use of polystyrene products in Florida grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, and other regulated businesses.
“Polystyrene may be convenient, but there is a hidden danger to public health from these disposable consumer products. Chemicals in polystyrene are not only linked to human and animal health concerns, but because these petroleum-based products take at least 500 years to decompose, their negative effects continue long after they’re thrown away,” said Commissioner Fried. “As Florida’s consumer protection and food safety agency, we have an opportunity to help consumers and companies make a positive change. That’s why I’m excited to announce that we have started the rulemaking process to phase out the use of polystyrene food packaging at the 40,000 grocery stores, markets, and convenience stores that we regulate in Florida. By increasing demand for cost-effective alternative products, this is a huge opportunity to create Florida jobs, at Florida businesses, using Florida-grown crops to create next-generation products that are made in Florida. This vision to phase out polystyrene until reaching zero within this decade is a monumental change for consumers, health, and the environment, joining a third of U.S. states in taking action on this issue.” Read more here.
Dec 10– Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried signed off on her proposed new rules for elimination of polystyrene packaging in stores and businesses her department regulates and is sending those rules to the Legislature, seeking ratification.
Fried announced that she signed off on the rules to eliminate polystyrene packaging, after several months of public hearings and rule-making by her department. Read more here.
What is the current status? Well, the Florida State Legislature would’ve had to ratify the rule, and unfortunately, it seems unlikely they are willing to do that.