Frequently Asked Questions
Miami Beach is a unique coastal community that sits between the pristine waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the ecologically diverse Biscayne Bay. As a city that is rich in natural resources, we understand the importance of keeping our streets, waterways, and ecological habitats healthy. The reduction of single-use plastic will help protect these natural elements by:
- Decreasing the demand on natural resources to produce plastic;
- Reducing the production of greenhouse gas emissions;
- Protecting wildlife from ingesting plastic debris/litter
- Reducing litter in waterways and beaches;
- Allowing the city’s stormwater system to function adequately and debris free
Learn more about the impacts of plastic pollution.
Three ordinances were adopted to support the City's waste reduction and recycling goals, promote environmental health, protect wildlife, and conserve resources. In conjunction with these ordinances, the city is launching the #PlasticFreeMB campaign along with a certification program for businesses to pledge to reduce and/or remove certain types of plastics from their establishments.
- Ordinance 2017-4068 This ordinance prohibits the sale and use of expanded polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam) within the City and includes: parks, beaches, city-owned facilities, sidewalk cafes, special event permits, city marinas, unencapsulated docks, buoys, platforms, piers and boat ramps.
- Ordinance 2018-4205 extends the existing single-use plastic straw/stirrers ban from beaches to all city properties, including marinas, parks, piers, docks, boat ramps and sidewalk cafes (as well as contractors and special events permitees). The ordinance does not allow for biodegradable or compostable plastics as substitutes
- Ordinance 2018-4208 will prohibit the use/distribution of single-use carry-out plastic bags on the right of way and to sidewalk café patrons.
Business owners can help by opting to use alternatives materials or switch over to reusable materials within their establishments. In addition, businesses can pledge to become a part of an esteemed network of businesses in Miami Beach that have vowed to help keep the city plastic free. Learn more about #PlasticFreeMB here: Business Program
Shop in style - always have reusable bags. With the many options available for reusable bags, you can definitely find out that suits your style better than ugly plastic bags
Drink in style – always have a reusable bottle or cup handy
Eat in Style – ordering in? getting delivery? Say no to plastic cutlery. We’re sure that what you have at home works better anyways
Go strawless – decline any straws or stirrers that may come with your beverage or if you really need one, get yourself a reusable straw
Go topless – do you really need the plastic top to that coffee or smoothie cup? Unless you’re going for a joy ride, you don’t really need it
Spread the word - tell your family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of reducing single-use plastic
Share the program - with your favorite stores and restaurant and tell them to pledge to become a #plasticfreemb business
The ordinances phasing out plastic straw/stirrer and plastic bag in city facilities, parks, marinas, sidewalk cafes and special events has broken down into three phases: Beginning August 6, 2018, both ordinances will have a 3-month educational period which will run until October 31, 2018; followed by another 3-month period for written warnings from November 1, 2018, to January 31, 2019. Full enforcement will commence on February 1, 2019.
We encourage you to first share information on the #plasticfreemb program with businesses. If by February 2019 you notice the use of plastic straw/stirrer and plastic bag in the locations above, you can contact the Code Compliance Department at 305.604.City. Other businesses can voluntarily substitute plastic straws/stirrers and plastic bags with other materials.
The short answer is no. Although composting is a great option when reducing plastic use, our region does not offer large-scale composting. Additionally, compostable plastics are not accepted at most recycling facilities in South Florida. If your home or business has a composting bin, then compostable plastic may work for you. Compostable plastics can take several months to biodegrade and are still considered litter if not disposed of properly. An important action to keep in mind is to reduce dependency on single-use plastic before considering reusing and recycling.
Keep in mind that our plastic straw/stirrer ordinance does not allow for biodegradable or compostable plastics as substitutes.
We highly recommend choosing reusable materials or items that are derived from natural products such as bamboo, sugarcane, and other highly biodegradable products. It's also important to note waste management services are provided by a small group of contracted waste/recycling companies. These companies only accept certain types of plastic to recycle. The recycling symbol and the number on a container do not necessarily indicate whether a product is recyclable. We recommend recycling by shape. Consider items such bottles, jars and jugs which are the most highly accepted materials at a recycling facility.
The easiest way to identify plastic or biodegradable plastics is by looking for products that contain "poly" within their description. The most common plastics are:
- Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
- Plastic #2: High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
- Plastic #3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
- Plastic #4: Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
- Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP)
- Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS)
- Plastic #7: Other
- EPS: Expanded Polystyrene
Some biodegradable plastics include:
- Polypropylene Carbonate
- Polylactide-based plastics (PLA)
Although these plastics claim to be biodegradable, they take a significant amount of time to biodegrade and have the same environmental impact as regular plastics. Plastics that claim to be compostable often require a large-scale composting facility and a specific environment to completely biodegrade.
The links below are a great starting point for businesses to locate sustainable alternative materials. The city recommends looking at reusable materials mainly for kitchen materials, such as utensils, plates, cups, etc. The upfront investment to purchase the reusable materials will definitely pay off in a short run and you will produce less litter.
Debris Free Oceans has created a purchasing list of places where you could find alternatives/more sustainable materials.
There are also vendors that reached have worked with the City that can provide discounts for our local businesses. You can find more information in the link below:
Yes! Are you interested in joining #PlasticFreeMB but located outside of Miami Beach? Luckily, there is still a way for you to get involved! We have designed the #PlasticFreeMB program to be easily transferrable to other cities so that they can set up their own version of the program. We will provide your city with all necessary branding and information on setting up your #PlasticFree program so that you can just focus on getting your businesses to eliminate single-use plastics. We want to make it as simple as possible for other cities to start their own #PlasticFree programs so that we can all work towards the common goal of sustainability and plastic reduction. To set up your city’s #PlasticFree program or to learn more about this program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.