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Bal Harbour Bans All Single-Use Plastics Amid Preemption Bills In Florida Legislature

by Alexander Gonzalez & Tom Hudson | May 15, 2019

A Miami-Dade city is banning all single-use plastics. It’s one of the most comprehensive legislation of its kind in the state of Florida.

The village of Bal Harbour recently passed an ordinance that prohibits places like restaurants and hotels from using, selling or distributing plastics, such as straws and shopping bags.

On the South Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson spoke with Bal Harbour City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and Councilman Buzzy Sklar, who was behind the legislation.

Here's an excerpt of their conversation:

SKLAR: I come from the restaurant hospitality business. I had restaurants on Miami Beach. I actually converted my restaurants a year or two years ago to paper take-out bags and paper straws.

WLRN: Additional costs to the consumers? To you? To profits?

SKLAR: It's not that bad. There was a very minimal cost. So when I proposed this, it's something that I actually put my money where my mouth is. It's not something that I was just out there hugging trees. It's something that I was actually on the forefront of as a restauranteur myself.

Has there been empirical data about plastics in the water that led to this discussion at all?

GONZALEZ: Technically no. Not in our waters. Our beaches are pretty well maintained. We struggle with seaweed from time to time. It's not that litter is getting into the ocean in Bal Harbour per se. What we hope is that if we took this first step in, and other coastal cities may do the same, pretty soon, this is something that we hope gets replicated elsewhere.

Legislation is being debated in Tallahassee that would preempt Bal Harbour or any other community from taking this kind of action. Buzzy, if that should pass and if the governor should sign it, what's the fate of this kind of plastic bag for Bal Harbour?

SKLAR: I actually spent two weeks  in Tallahassee. We want to be very proactive in this. I met with our senators and our reps and just to see where everything was. The nice thing is the Senate basically threw out straws out of their proposed bill. There's still something floating around in the House, but a lot of times without a Senate component and, you know, to marry up with it they hopefully go to waste.