Miami Beach Styrofoam Ban Looks to Protect Ocean and Bay

A citywide ban on styrofoam went into effect this weekend in the hopes of making the sand and waters on Miami Beach cleaner.

The ban covers expanded polystyrene items like cups, plates and containers. An ordinance carries fines ranging from $50 to $500 for repeated offenses.

The newly instituted ban prohibits restaurants or stores from using or selling styrofoam. Supporters say this little change could make a big difference.

"This is really about how we protect our bays and our oceans which is the most economic driver of the city of Miami," said Dave Dobler, Cofounder of Volunteer Cleanup.

Miami Beach is the first city in the state to enact a ban prohibiting restaurants and stores from using or selling styrofoam. Officials with the Code Compliance Department says violations will cost you $50 the first time and $500 for third and subsequent offenses. Coolers and ice chests are also included in the ban with similar civil fines.

"I recognize that we have to give restaurants some time to work out their processes to be able to support the ban." said Dara Schoenwald, executive director for and county coordinator for International Coastal Cleanup.

Cleanup crews say the styrofoam material breaks down and floats around in the bay and ocean for decades. Enacting this ban in the heavily populated Miami Beach area could prevent a scene like this one.

"This is about preventing probably one of the worst pieces of plastic trash from escaping onto the ground through the storm drain systems and out to the bay," Dobler said.

The ban is expected to push for more environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging options in Miami Beach.

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