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Home Environment Styrofoam beach ban ordinance tabled for now amid enforcement confusion

Styrofoam beach ban ordinance tabled for now amid enforcement confusion

The ordinance to prohibit the use of Styrofoam on public property was withdrawn following extensive discussion among members of the commission and concerns from the public.

There was concern the regulations were unclear. One concern involved people taking Styrofoam containers and cups from restaurants to the beach. Would the restaurant be responsible, the server or the customer with the container? And there was a concern about how the ordinance would be enforced.

Hollywood City staff are in the process of developing a modified ordinance to deal with the issue of polystyrene containers which most consumers know as Styrofoam cups and takeout containers.

Under Florida law Hollywood cannot issue fines to businesses because cities cannot ban polystyrene from restaurants and stores. Cities can ban polystyrene from public places including beaches, parks, sidewalks and events. So it would be possible for customers of businesses to receive fines for walking out of an establishment with a Styrofoam cup or takeout container.

A number of restaurant owners have expressed concern that their customers could be fined even if restaurants could not be fined. Restaurant owners have said they would stop using Styrofoam in their businesses. Another concerned raised by Commissioners is that police officers and code enforcement officers would be asked to spend too much time enforcing a ban on Styrofoam.

“After plastics enter the ocean, they slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food,” said Catherine Uden, the current Chair of the Surfrider Foundation Broward County Chapter. “An estimated 500 million plastic straws are used DAILY in the United States. Polystyrene, or styrofoam, is one of the worst offenders to our ocean because it breaks apart so easily, and once that happens, it becomes difficult to impossible to remove from the water.”

Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit that strives to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches.

Vice Mayor Traci Callari said she could accept a penalty for violators of a polystyrene ban but questioned whether it would really be enforced.

Commissioner Peter Hernandez said he would support a ban on polystyrene and believes these containers should be permitted at City Hall. He wants the ban to be throughout Hollywood.

The ordinance had passed on first reading at an earlier meeting but a second reading was required. It is likely the ordinance will be modified and brought back before the Commission in November.

David Volz
David Volz
David Volz has been a reporter for Hollywood Gazette since 2011 and has worked for numerous community news publications throughout South Florida over the past two decades including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and South Florida Business Journal. He is a Professor in the Business department at Broward College and the editor of the Coral Springs Connection, an online community news website. He covers city government, schools, sports events, cultural activities, faith groups and workplaces.

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