Palm Beach, Florida has become the first town in Palm Beach County to officially ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers (also known as Styrofoam containers). The ban on these items will go into effect on December 12, 2019 in order to allow businesses and vendors to use up their current inventory and start switching to more sustainable options.
The town council voted to pass the ban in June and will enforce the regulations in restaurants, gas stations, drug stores and grocery stores. Private events and caterers will also have to abide by the restrictions. Town manager Kirk Blouin told the local paper, “The research has shown us these items are bad for the environment, particularly marine life, and it just makes sense to regulate it.”
Blouin also noted that although people are very dependent on these convenient plastic items, it is just out of habit and not necessity — and habits can change.
“We are all creatures of habit,” he said. “Once we get used to a good habit, it becomes second nature to us.”
Many local businesses were already on board with the measure and had ceased offering customers single-use bags as well as other items such as plastic straws and stirrers. Especially for a coastal town, these plastic items do not biodegrade and often end up on beaches and in the ocean, where they break down into microplastic particles. Microplastics are known to cause problems for marine life, and debris is unsightly on beaches.
According to the Friends of Palm Beach, a clean-up group in the area, they have already cleared away 120,000 pounds of trash in their clean-ups since 2013. Over 75 percent of all trash collected from the beaches has been plastic waste that ends up in landfills or washes out to sea.
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