Local Strategy- Pass a plastics ordinance in your city or county

YOU can help pass a law in your local municipality.

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 chose to ban polystyrene foam on city property, and they banned balloons and confetti on all outdoor city property/parks/beach.
  • 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.
  • 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).
Your municipality can completely ban single-use plastic utensils because they are not a bag, container, or polystyrene foam. There is no specific law preempting utensils. Your stores and restaurants would have to supply reusable utensils and/or wooden/bamboo utensils.
No city/county has done this yet. Your city/county could be the first! (We suggest not allowing bio-plastics that behave similarly in the marine environment).

Get started:

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.

A South Broward High School student asks her city’s Sustainability Advisory Board to help ask the city to enforce an old plastics ordinance that was on the books for decades. This campaign was a success, and Hollywood began enforcing this ordinance in October 2018.

Toolkits:

Additional help:

Youth activists:

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.

A concerned citizen speaks in front of the Dania Beach city commission, asking them to vote yes on a plastic straw ordinance.

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.

Meeting with your city’s Citizen Sustainability Advisory Committee can be a way to gain support for your goals.

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.

Any reduction of unnecessary single-use plastics is a good step forward. Please keep in mind persons with disabilities when enacting plastic straw ordinances. Exemptions need to be made for people who need/request a straw.

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. 27 municipalities in Florida have passed plastic straw laws, and at least 25 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 in FL with plastic straw ordinances:

  1. Ft Lauderdale
  2. Miami Beach
  3. Stuart
  4. Hallandale Beach
  5. Dania Beach
  6. Lauderdale by the Sea
  7. Pompano Beach
  8. Deerfield Beach
  9. Fort Myers Beach
  10. Delray Beach
  11. Wilton Manors
  12. West Palm Beach
  13. Ormond Beach  
  14. Pinecrest
  15. Key West
  16. St Pete
  17. Palmetto Bay
  18. Largo
  19. Sunny Isles
  20. Surfside
  21. Marco Island
  22. Sanibel
  23. Key Biscayne
  24. Sarasota
  25. Oakland Park
  26. Palm Beach
  27. Alachua County

Cities in FL with other types of plastic/foam ordinances/policies which also may include straws and/or foam and/or utensils etc: 

  1. Hollywood (no plastic or foam east of intracoastal), Hollywood also passed single use plastics and foam on city property/events/contracts ordinance in 2020.
  2. Deerfield Beach
  3. Miami Beach
  4. Bal Harbour
  5. North Bay Village
  6. St Pete
  7. Largo
  8. Miami Dade County Parks and Beaches (polystyrene foam)
  9. Key Biscayne beaches and parks (polystyrene foam)
  10. Bay Harbour Islands
  11. Pinecrest
  12. Surfside
  13. Village of Miami Shores- plastic water bottles city property
  14. Orange County, Florida.  No EPS foam in any new county contracts, including convention center.
  15. Orlando
  16. Stuart
  17. Dania Beach (foam ordinance city property passed July 2020)
  18. Tampa (city resolution banning foam passed Sept 2020)
  19. Fort Lauderdale (foam ordinance on city property)
  20. Palm Beach Gardens (polystyrene resolution city property and contracts) Jan 2021
  21. Sunny Isles Beach
  22. Boynton Beach (polystyrene foam, balloons, confetti on city property)
  23. Winter Park
  24. Tallahassee (single-use plastic foodware/drinkware on city property/city events)
  25. Boca Raton (foam ordinance city events/vendors, balloons, confetti)
Photo: Local Solutions Support Center

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