BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Earth Day is on Thursday and Boynton Beach is doing its part to help preserve our delicate environment.
Commissioners in Boynton Beach unanimously passed a measure Tuesday night to eliminate Styrofoam and polystyrene foam products on city property and city facilities.
Sustainability coordinator Rebecca Harvey said this is a small step to helping the environment.
She adds other city's like Delray Beach have similar measures in place, but Boynton Beach's new ordinance includes balloons and confetti.
Harvey said all the items in the ordinance are dangerous to the environment.
"Those become micro-plastics that never biodegrade," Harvey said.
Whitney Crowder with Gumbo Limbo Sea Turtle Rehabilitation said reducing the use of Styrofoam helps keep sea life healthier
"Almost every single turtle that enters our facility is affected by plastic," Crowder said.
There have been previous reports of baby turtles washing ashore with bellies full of plastic.
Crowder said this is a perfect example of why reducing plastic and foam use is important.
"We try to educate the public on the changes they can make on an individual level," Crowder said.
The new ordinance is also asking people to stop using Styrofoam and plastic and start using reusable or paper products.
Harvey said the city will give rental discounts to people who don't use foam or balloons and confetti.
The next 12 months will be an education period for vendors, she said.
"After 12 months, we will begin to enforce the ban with our vendors," Harvey said.
Violators will then have contracts terminated or face a fine.
The full ordinance entails the following changes to city programs and services:
- Modification to city contracts, leases, special event permits, and concession agreements to prohibit the use and distribution of polystyrene foam food ware and unencapsulated polystyrene foam products (e.g., coolers, ice chests, pool or beach toys) by city contractors and temporary vendors in city facilities and on city property; and the use of balloons and confetti in outdoor areas of city property
- Development of a voluntary pledge for facility rental agreements to discourage the use of polystyrene foam food ware and unencapsulated polystyrene foam products from all city property and facilities; and the use of balloons and confetti from outdoor city facilities. Individuals who take the pledge will receive discounted facility rental rates
- A public education and outreach campaign for at least 12 months to inform affected persons/entities and to assist with identifying alternatives to polystyrene foam food ware and other banned items
- Enforcement of the prohibition after a 12-month educational period
The measure in Boynton Beach comes as more cities and municipalities across South Florida implement changes to reduce waste and work to preserve the environment.
Delray Beach passed a resolution in October encouraging businesses to limit their polystyrene use.
Coral Gables stopped purchasing products made of expanded polystyrene following an ordinance in 2016.
Hollywood enacted an ordinance in 2018 that banned the use of non-biodegradable containers and plastic packaging.
Also, St. Lucie County has a foam processing center that can recycle Styrofoam, one of only three facilities in Florida.