The City of West Palm Beach (the City) is committed to environmental stewardship and leadership and finds that it is in the public interest, safety, and welfare of it's citizens and visitors to reduce litter and pollutants on the lands and in the waters of the City. Discarded plastic straws and plastic stirrers, as well as other single-use plastic items, threaten wildlife and marine life, negatively impact the City’s stormwater management system and waterways, and litter the waterfront and waters within the City.
It is estimated that Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day. Many of these straws make their way into the ocean and waterways, where it takes approximately 200 years to begin degrading. Non-biodegradable, single-use straws often end up in waterways where they break down into smaller, micro-size pieces that are oftentimes mistaken as food by marine life. This, in turn, can have detrimental effects not only on marine life, but may also eventually cause harm to humans by way of consumption and collateral environmental effects. According to a United Nations (UN) article, over eight million metric tons of plastic are found in our oceans every year, impacting our marine wildlife, fisheries, and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Plastic straws are among the top 10 marine debris items. Even after degrading, plastics never leave the environment. It is critical to reduce our dependency on single-use plastics.
On February 25, 2019, we introduced Ordinance 4836-19
to the City Commission to prohibit the distribution, sale or use of plastic straws and plastic stirrers. The ordinance passed unanimously after the first reading with support from public speakers with Surfrider Foundation - Palm Beach County and Surface71 (a student organization). On March 11, 2019, the ordinance unanimously passed and will go into effect on October 1, 2019. We will begin additional education and outreach efforts after the second reading to help assist consumers and businesses with the transition. Metal straws and tabletop info will be available for restaurants and bars on a first come, first serve basis to educate their customers and provide a free alternative. We recognize that plastic straws and stirrers may make up a small portion of the plastic litter found on beaches and in waterways, but this is only a small step on our journey to reduce single-use plastics in the City of West Palm Beach.
Questions? Contact Elaine Christian (firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-804-4984)
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