Miami Beach Might Ban Styrofoam From Its Waterways

Last month, Miami Beach environmentalists were outraged to find Styrofoam docks crumbling in Biscayne Bay, releasing beads of plastic right into the ocean. After activist Dave Doebler posted a video and complained to the county, officials quickly removed the temporary docks, which were being used during the Venetian Causeway renovation.

Now the city might just ban all polystyrene in its waterways.

The product commonly called Styrofoam is already barred from being sold or used in Miami Beach, and the city has handed out hundreds of dollars in fines to stores with Styrofoam still on their shelves. Under a resolution that the city’s Sustainability and Resiliency Committee is pursuing, polystyrene would also be prohibited from public and private waterways in Miami Beach.

The resolution would target “unencapsulated” or bare polystyrene docks, which are not covered by a protective layer that prevents disintegration. Styrofoam buoys could also be included. The committee is urging the county, state, and U.S. Coast Guard to follow suit and discontinue the use of bare polystyrene docks.

“I guarantee we’re on the cutting edge of this,” says Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, a committee member, “and I guarantee waterways throughout the state of Florida are being polluted by these Styrofoam docks.”

In previous years, environmentalists have voiced concerns about polystyrene left in the water by Yachts Miami Beach, an annual yacht show that uses the docks to allow visitors to walk among the boats. Elizabeth Wheaton, the city’s environment and sustainability director, told the committee that the show plans to phase out polystyrene docks by next year.

Wheaton is working to draft the resolution banning polystyrene from waterways. The sustainability committee hopes to get it to city commissioners within a couple of months.
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Brittany Shammas is a former staff writer at Miami New Times. She covered education in Naples before taking a job at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She joined New Times in 2016.
Contact: Brittany Shammas