By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Miami Beach is doubling down on environmental efforts by regulating stricter litter laws and the use of plastic straws in the community. Earlier this month, the Miami Beach City Commission passed a resolution opposing Florida Senate Bill 588 and Florida House Bill 603.
Representative Anthony Sabatani, R – Howey-in-the-Hills, proposed House Bill 603 in effort to stop local governments from passing laws to reduce plastic consumption. If passed, the bill would invalidate all existing straw bans in the state of Florida.
Senator Travis Huston, R – St. Augustine, filed Senate Bill 588. The bill would have allowed restaurants and food service establishments to provide plastic straws to customers upon request. Also, said businesses could make plastic straws available via a self-serve straw dispenser.
Representatives Anna Eskamani, D – Orlando, and Michael Grieco, D – Miami Dade, sponsored House Bill 6033 to repeal the state’s municipal governments’ ability to ban single-use plastics and recyclable materials.
“Removing the state’s preemption on banning single-use plastic and polystyrene is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” says Grieco, in a news release. “As a former city official myself, I believe firmly in the power of local control, alongside the importance of protecting our environment at a place-based level.”
Back in 2012, Miami Beach was one of the first cities in the United States to pass an ordinance to prohibit businesses from providing single-use plastic straws on the beach. In July 2018, the city commission unanimously passed legislation to include plastic stirrers in prohibition and to extend regulation to all parks, docks, piers, dock ramps, marinas and beaches within city limits.
The new ordinance took effect February 1st. In addition to beachfront properties, the law also applies to sidewalk cafes in the city like the ones on Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road.
The Ocean Conservancy Trash Information and Data for Education and Solutions reports that plastic straws are the 11th most common item found in ocean litter.
According to Get Green Now, Americans used an estimated 500 million plastic straws a day in 2017. Plastic straws are typically made out of type five plastic, also known as polypropylene. Type five plastic is non-biodegradable. Degrading plastic releases toxic chemicals into the environment.
Businesses that provide its patrons with plastic straws are subject to a fine ranging from $100 to $1,500. Miami Beach has also partnered with Debris Free Oceans to help businesses find plastic alternative retailers.