HALLANDALE BEACH — All things Styrofoam, from cups to coolers, may soon be banned from the beach, parks and other public places.
Those caught with the contraband would face civil fines of $50 for a first-time offense. Get caught again and the fine would rise to $250.
The ban, which won tentative approval Wednesday, would apply to city vendors operating beachside cafes as well as anyone visiting the beach, parks and City Hall.
Hallandale Beach might be the first municipality in Broward County to outlaw so-called "dirty foam," said Commissioner Keith London, who is pushing the ban in an effort to raise awareness about the environmental dangers posed by polystyrene products.
"This isn't about fining people," London said. "This is about educating people. If they come to [the beach or park], they are not to bring a Styrofoam cup."
Styrofoam cannot be recycled and takes hundreds of years to degrade, experts say.
Other cities nationwide have embraced similar bans, including New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Miami Beach.
Environmental activists from other cities — including Davie and Miami Beach — praised Hallandale Beach commissioners for taking the first step in banning a product that is not eco-friendly.
"Styrofoam is here forever," said Craig Kaler of North Miami Beach. "Marine mammals often mistake it for nesting material and eat it. A lot of other cities are going to be following suit."
The ban would not become final until city commissioners take a final vote April 15.
People wouldn't be fined right away, but would get warnings for the first 30 to 60 days.
City Hall plans to launch an education campaign to alert the public about the new ban.
Commissioner Anthony Sanders, whose favorite coffee shop uses Styrofoam cups, voted for the ban but had reservations about the fine.
"We can do an education campaign," he said. "That doesn't mean people get the message."
Sanders ridiculed the notion that he might be fined if he walked into City Hall with a Styrofoam cup.
"I run on America's coffee," he said. "I want to know how you're going to enforce this. That'll be the most expensive cup of coffee ever."
But Commissioner Bill Julian commended London for bringing the Styrofoam ban forward.
"It's our grandkid's grandkids that are going to suffer," said Julian. "This is a big move to tell the rest of the cities that we are on board to eliminate this stuff."
The ban would not impact businesses in Hallandale Beach — just customers who head to a public space with takeout containers.
"Let's see how it evolves," said Harvey Fuerst, owner of Sage Bagel & Deli. "Some of my to-go food goes in Styrofoam. If it's hot food, we tend to use Styrofoam."
Gulfstream Park uses Styrofoam for soup cups and to-go containers but would switch to recyclable products if the city approves the ban, said spokesman Dave Joseph.
From our media partner Sun Sentinel