Miami-Dade County is banning polystyrene foam from all public beaches, marinas, and parks starting on July 1st. If someone is found with polystyrene foam in any of these areas, he or she could be fined $50 . Paul Vitro, chief of the county’s Park, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department, says he’s not trying to punish people. “This ban is really about education,” Vitro says. “It’s really about having the chance to outreach to the public and let them know the negative impacts of this and to try to help them make better choices that impact the environment less.”
Regrettably, Vitro could use a bit of education himself. A ban on a specific product will not reduce trash. If alternative products are used in place of foam, they will most likely be discarded in the same way as the banned item. Moreover, alternative products will not biodegrade, but will remain as unsightly litter for the foreseeable future. If Vitro genuinely seeks to educate people, a better bet would be to focus on litter education and abatement.
Fortunately, the Miami-Dade ordinance is limited to public property. It does not directly affect restaurants, which can continue to enjoy the cost-effectiveness and performance benefits of polystyrene foam.