Miami-Dade County Bans Styrofoam From Parks, Beaches

A state bill, however, prevented lawmakers from passing more comprehensive legislation.
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Miami-Dade County has banned Styrofoam from its outdoor areas despite efforts from Florida lawmakers to keep the controversial material around.

Under a new ordinance passed on Tuesday, all Miami-Dade parks, beaches, marinas, trails and playing fields will ban Styrofoam coolers, cups, plates and to-go containers starting next summer, the Miami Herald reported.

Miami-Dade is following the lead of a number of other nearby areas, including Miami Beach and Key Biscayne, which were able to completely outlaw Styrofoam products.

"It's among the most common pollutants in the bay, and it's affecting our parks and also the animal life around our parks," Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, the bill's sponsor, said, according to the Miami New Times. "The point here is to educate the public, to reduce the polystyrene trash in our parks, and to protect our parks and beaches."

There are numerous concerns about Styrofoam, not least of which is that the material is not “clean enough” to be recycled. Another problem is that Styrofoam is made from Styrene, which is a possible human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. It also continues to break down into smaller and smaller pieces and marine animals often mistake it for food, according to Clean Water Action California.

Once the bill is in place, violations will carry a $50 fine.

The ordinance passed overwhelmingly, but was limited in scope, thanks to a recent state bill.

In March, a Florida bill prevented local governments from banning Styrofoam, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The bill stated that areas that had adopted bans before January could keep them in place. But places that adopted such legislation this year would be subject to being reversed.

That kept Cava from proposing a more “comprehensive” plan, the Miami New Times reported.

The state bill was pushed by retailers who use Styrofoam to package raw meat, fruits and vegetables. They were worried about “differing regulations” across varying municipal and county lines, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Rep. Jake Raburn, (R-Valrico), sponsor of the Florida bill, told the paper that Styrofoam isn’t the issue. Rather, it’s people not being responsible about cleaning up their trash.

"It's unfortunate that people put us in a situation where we do have that in the water," Raburn told the paper. "But just like drugs are illegal but people still do drugs. Just by banning Styrofoam you can't fix a people problem."

A number of other cities and counties have either partially or completely banned Styrofoam products. Those include Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, New York, and Portland, Oregon, among others.

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