Next On Key West's Environmental Agenda: To Be Free Of Single-Use Plastics

Aug 7, 2019
Originally published on August 7, 2019 8:01 pm

In the last few months, Key West has banned the sale of chemical sunscreens and the use of styrofoam and some pesticides on city property. Now the city is taking on single-use plastics.

Tuesday evening, Key West officially set a goal to be free of single-use plastics. That includes bags, straws and utensils.

Shawn Martin, chair of the Keys chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, says the group does frequent cleanups on the beaches and shallow water around the island.

"No matter how often we do cleanups, we find that we are always collecting several hundred pounds of trash in just a few hours' time," Martin said. "Most of that being single-use plastic straws, plastic cups, bags."

The measure won unanimous support from the Key West City Commission. Many of the people who spoke in support live in other parts of the Keys and say they hope the same idea will be taken up throughout the island chain.

"This is not just polluting our environment of our island, of the beauty of why people come here," Martin said. 

Key West commissioners told city attorneys to come up with an ordinance that would ban single-use plastics, while also taking into account the legal challenges based on state laws that pre-empt local governments from such actions.

Coral Gables, Bal Harbour, Surfside and Fort Lauderdale have all taken aim at different kinds of plastics, ranging from straws or bags to all single-use plastics.