Earlier this month, Hallandale Beach in South Florida proposed a ban on expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. The ban would have included all plastic #6 products, such as foam cups, coolers, clamshell containers and more. Keith London, who proposed the ban, wanted to see it in effect in all public places, like beaches, city parks and City Hall.
The idea behind the ban was to eliminate one factor in the pollution at that particular section of the Florida coast line. The problem with this narrow thinking is that pollution is a behavioral issue and not simply about the product being used. Studies have shown that people are more likely to litter with products that they believe to be biodegradable, which in itself is shocking behavior, but human nature all the same.
At the time the ban was proposed, two foam company employees stepped forward to discuss the fact that EPS foam can be recycled and that the local ‘mom and pop’ businesses will be hit hard from the excessive cost of alternatives to foam, which on average range from two to five times the cost.
The City Commission approved the ban initially, following in the footsteps of neighbor Miami Beach, but Mayor Joy Cooper stepped in this week saying that she would not ban any product when no steps have been taken to promote recycling and anti-litter campaigns. The Mayor is progressive in her thinking, promoting a positive solution first before taking any drastic measures that could gravely impact the local economy. Mayor Cooper has earmarked $50,000 to be used in an anti-littering campaign over the next six months in the hopes that steps to prevent litter, and ultimately reduce it, will have a bigger impact than simply changing the type of product being littered.