By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Yesterday, September 11th, the City of Miami Beach passed an ordinance that prohibits single-use plastic beverage straws and stirrers citywide – further reducing the amount of plastic pollution in the city’s storm drains and waterways as well as improving water quality.
The City had already put in place a ban single-use plastic beverage straws, stirrers and single-use plastic bags on the city’s beaches, streets, and prohibiting plastic bags from being distributed by sidewalk cafes, marinas and other public places.
“Every move we make to strengthen our litter laws citywide significantly reduces the amount of litter and pollutants on land and in the water,” shared Mayor Dan Gelber. “Protecting both our natural environment and wildlife is a priority for our city and a cause we will never stop fighting for.”
Plastic straws are one of the most commonly found littered items on the beach – many of which end up in the ocean. Taking approximately 200 years to begin degrading, the average plastic straw is only used for a few minutes before being discarded.
“A fundamental part of our plastic-free movement begins and ends with our businesses,” added Gelber. “Our #PlasticFreeMB program has voluntarily signed over 120 businesses thus far. I’m excited to see that education and reach continue in building an environmentally-conscious economy that values our beautiful paradise.”
Similar to the city’s plastic bag restriction, the ordinances will be phased with full enforcement taking place July 2020.
Over the course of the next three months, the city will launch its public education campaign to inform businesses, such as food-service providers and hotels, of the provisions of the regulation as well as assisting with identifying reusable alternatives.
Elizabeth Wheaton, director of environment and sustainability for Miami Beach, said the city will spend the next three months trying to “educate our businesses and get the word out to our residents.”
After that, the city’s code enforcement would issue written notices to businesses in violation of the ordinance, she said to local news.
Beginning July 1st, any businesses providing plastic straws or stirrers to patrons will be fined $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense and $500 for any subsequent violations.
“We anticipate that our businesses will comply,” Wheaton said.