marine debris press

What are local governments doing to eradicate microplastics?

Click here to read the article on NBC6.

Since 2008, Florida state law prohibits local governments from banning single-use plastic items such as bags – a limitation that has led to new approaches.

As we continue the "Planet in Crisis: Solutions" series, we are now exploring the limitations imposed by the law, as well as the available alternatives to legally curb the plastic invasion.

Since 2008, Florida state law prohibits local governments from banning single-use plastic items such as bags – a limitation that has led to new approaches.

”Internally within our governments, we have changed our procurement policies," Chief Bay Officer at Miami-Dade County Irela Bagué told NBC6. "So vendors are now needing to abide by not providing those single-use plastic products, plastic straws, containers. They’re working with schools, they're working with the actual municipalities and their leaders."

In October 2022, Miami-Dade County began promoting a new voluntary recognition program for its businesses, thanks to over $360,000 in subsidies from federal programs.

“Last year we launched Plastic Free 305, which is a program that works with restaurants and businesses to reduce their plastic, single-use plastic consumption and purchasing and migrating towards those sustainable products,” Bagué explained.

This is achieved by using grants to procure sustainable options from environmentally conscious suppliers; however, only 71 businesses have enrolled so far, which represents 0.03% of all active companies countywide.

On the other hand, non-profit entities like Miami Waterkeeper work directly with disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.

“One thing that we want to do and one of our main goals is to educate those folks and make sure that they know that what they're doing, even if it's not right on the water, if they're not close to the bay, that they do have an impact,” said Erin Cover, education and outreach manager at Miami Waterkeeper. “Everything that happens on land directly affects our waterways and the quality of water and the health of our aquatic ecosystems and the people that live on the bay and recreate on the water.”

Aside from providing the public with a free water quality monitoring program, they coach up to 30 high school students each year, teaching them environmental topics.

“We host regular volunteer events and we do marine debris cleanups, but that is really just treating a symptom of the issue," Cover explained. “So, we make sure that during those events, we educate the participants and the community that plastic is in the environment forever.”

Legally, notable milestones were attained this year as municipalities such as Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, and Monroe County implemented bans on smoking at their public beaches.

 “So, protecting our beaches and keeping cigarette butts because those cigarette butts end up in the ocean, end up in our wildlife, end up impacting the quality of the sand, and really just the quality of life,” Bagué explained. “It's just the right thing to do.”

It is expected that these measures will prevent millions of cigarette butts, whose filters are primarily made of plastic materials, from ever reaching the sea.

Although progress has been made in reducing plastic pollution, authorities in the field agree that the crucial objective remains its total eradication -- a goal that still eludes us.

Showing 1 reaction

Sign in with your email

Sign in with your social account

    Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.