Miami Beach

Miami Beach moves to ban Styrofoam containers at sidewalk cafes, city parks

Styrofoam cups and boxes will no longer be allowed at Miami Beach parks and sidewalk cafes if the City Commission gives final approval to a proposed new law.

“It’s terrible for the environment, it blows around the city, it breaks up, the chemicals are harmful, the wildlife and our fish … eat these things, and it’s time to get with the program,” said Commissioner Michael Grieco, who sponsored the ban.

The ordinance, which the commission tentatively approved last week, says the material “is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable and takes hundreds to thousands of years to degrade in the environment.”

Styrofoam already is banned from the city’s beaches, and the new law would extend to the city’s parks or other city property.

Also affected are sidewalk cafes, which use the public right of way to serve customers.

Adam Niederkohr, general manager of Big Pink, a cafe on Collins Avenue, said his restaurant only uses Styrofoam for takeout orders “and we could replace that.”

Jim Omur, owner of Nexxt Cafe on Lincoln Road, said his business does use Styrofoam but would also change to abide by the law.

“It will be very easy for us to change to what they want,” Omur said. “I understand and congratulate them for that decision.”

Grieco said he believes Miami Beach is the first city in Florida to outlaw the material, but is following other cities in the nation.

“This is something that New York City and other cities have gone farther with than we are,” he said.

In 2013, the New York City Council banned the use of all polystyrene foam food containers — cups, clam shells, trays — as well as foam packing peanuts.

Other cities with similar bans include San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle.

Miami Beach commissioners will vote on the measure a second time July 23, and if passed, it will become law.

Miami Herald staff writer Christina Veiga contributed to this report.

Follow the reporters on Twitter @MelhorL and @CVeiga.