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Boca Raton councilman wants to increase fines for litterers of PPE

Proposal would increase fines from $50 to $250
Posted at 1:01 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 17:45:51-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The sight of discarded facemasks, gloves and other personal protective equipment pretty much everywhere over the last year has become a pervasive problem.

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To reduce improperly discarded PPE, Boca Raton Councilman Andy Thomson wants to increase fines for offenders.

Thomson made it a New Year's resolution to pick up trash and clean up neighborhoods while on his periodic runs through the city.

Discarded mask, litter

During the councilman's jogs, he said he has noticed a substantial amount of the trash is PPE, including finding 143 masks on the ground within 50 miles.

At the next city council meeting, Thomson said he will propose a $250 fine for anyone who is caught littering PPE, an increase from the current $50 fine for littering.

"If you are going to litter, what is potentially a biohazard, a glove or a mask, you really should be paying an enhanced fine if you are seen doing that," Thomson said.

Jessica Gray-Patterson with Boca Save our Beaches said she agrees with the increased fine.

Her group found multiple masks at one of their recent beach clean-ups. She said people forget that masks thrown away at the beach end up in the ocean.


"In South Florida, we have a lot of rain and wind, so [if ] that mask [is] sitting in a parking lot, a rainstorm washes it to a storm drain," Gray-Patterson said. "We are seeing more masks in the ocean after a year."

Thomson said he is pushing for the increased fine at the state level as well. He adds this fine isn't about money but about creating awareness concerning people dumping a used mask or gloves.

"What we want to do is educate and send a message that this is unacceptable behavior here in the city," Thomson said.

Below is a resolution on the topic: