Beachgoers, vendors and businesses in Bal Harbour better think twice if using Styrofoam.
The Village Council on Nov. 18 approved on second reading an ordinance that will ban the product from Bal Harbour stores, restaurants and beaches.
The ban was prompted by environmental and health concerns. Assistant Mayor Patricia Cohen said the ordinance will help protect and preserve the environment.
“It is very important as Styrofoam is regarded as a serious threat to the natural environment particularly our marine life,” she wrote in an e-mail. “We are a coastal community committed to preserving our natural habitat and would hope that all south Florida communities understand its importance and follow suit.”
If caught with the product, it will be treated as a code violation. Village Manager Jorge Gonzalez says officials initially will give warnings. Code violation fines start at $250.
“It’s a code violation much like our code violations whether its noise appearance and so forth,” Gonzalez said. “We are out there patrolling, but at the same time if people call to complain we have to respond to the call.”
The ordinance applies to businesses, vendors and individuals.
“It’s an environmentally friendly thing to do,” Gonzalez said. “Our beaches are one of the most important assets. One of the things I am familiar with are the Styrofoam coolers, since they are so inexpensive people would leave them. We are encouraging not to use them.”
Bal Harbour isn’t the first South Florida city to ban Styrofoam. Miami Beach became the first city in Florida. North Miami Beach, however, declined to ban it. Other cities are considering bans.
Ban supporters say the product harms land and marine wildlife, clogs storm sewers, interferes with landfill operations and breeds mosquitoes.
Michael DeFilippi, a Miami Beach environmentalist, has led the movement to ban Styrofoam.
“I’m extremely proud of Bal Harbour for showing leadership with this progressive commitment to protecting our environment. Polystyrene foam isn’t biodegradable and is an environmental mess,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Our coastlines are saturated with tiny pieces of polystyrene foam. With so many waterfront communities in Florida, it’s vital that more cities come forward and take a stand with cities such as Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Key Biscayne which have enacted legislation. We owe it to our precious environment to implement alternatives that are more sustainable”