Dave Westmark with the Suncoast Rise Above Plastics (RAP) Coalition shared about the coalition’s work to inspire a local culture free of disposable, single-use plastics by educating consumers, working with local businesses and influencing public policy. Having seen plastic bags far offshore while scuba diving in the Gulf, he views reducing disposable bag use as “preemptive rescuing” of vulnerable wildlife. With an eye toward solving the problem rather than issuing blame, Suncoast RAP is seeking feedback from local businesses about their use of single-use plastics.
Sharon Wright with the City shared that in light of the local support behind banning the use of plastic bags and the current legal context, it is currently a good time to move regulation forward. This February, Coral Gable’s Styrofoam ban was upheld, with the court ruling that a state-level preemptive ban on local regulation of Styrofoam trash was unconstitutional. The same ban was also the focus of a lawsuit brought against Coral Gables by the Florida Retail Federation. The City will review policy solutions to reducing plastic bag use at its ENRS meeting next week.
Bob Warchola with Shumaker, Look & Kendrick, LLP suggested that plastic-bag regulation be developed in a consensus-driven way. Additionally, concerns were raised about how a rapid transition to new forms of regulation might affect small businesses, and potential solutions to this problem were discussed. Finally, numerous committee members agreed on the importance of stimulating “pull” for alternatives to single-use plastics by educating and mobilizing interested consumers and businesses.
The next Sustainability Committee meeting will take place on August, 17th at 8:00 a.m.