HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – The most aggressive ban on plastics in the State of Florida has passed in the City of Hollywood.
The city, which already had an aggressive stance on the use of plastics, kicked its war on pollution into high gear.
Hollywood has effectively banned the use and distribution of single use plastics and polystyrene on city owned property and by city vendors.
“Things that come in plastic: utensils, straws, plates, anything you’re just going to use once and throw away,” said Hollywood District 1 Commissioner Caryl Shuham.
Commissioner Shuham sponsored the legislation, which builds on a single use plastic ban already being enforced on Hollywood Beach and the barrier islands.
“I really hope that we see less plastic left, and less plastic used on the beach and our Broadwalk,” said Commissioner Shuham.
That law was passed 40 years ago, before the State of Florida preempted other municipalities from passing similar plastic bans.
But the state can’t control what cities do with city owned properties, and in this, Hollywood found a loophole.
“It tries to take back what we can, what’s left under the preemption, to control plastic usage in our own city,” said Shuham.
The ban does not apply to businesses, but the city believes that if consumer demand is reduced, business owners will be forced to look for single use plastic and polystyrene alternatives.
“We’re hoping vendors and shops along the Broadwalk will turn to cans and boxed drinks and layoff the plastic,” Shuham said.
The ordinance also bans balloon releases that wreak havoc on the environment and can injure or even kill wildlife. The City of Hollywood is now leading the charge, and hopes are that other Florida cities will also fight for ways to ban plastics in their communities.
“We are doing what we can locally to control this problem and sending a clear message to our state legislature that communities want to do this,” said Catherine Uden, the South Florida campaign organizer for Oceana, the world’s largest ocean conservation organization. “We care about this issue.”
The penalties for those caught using single use plastics and polystyrene begin at $50 for the first offense but can go as high as $500 or even jail time for repeat offenders.
The city is giving residents a six-month grace period to learn about the new ordinance before they start imposing fines, but it was something the city felt compelled to do.
An estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic enters our oceans every year, and only 2% actually gets recycled.