MELBOURNE BEACH – Following a movement among entities around the world to reduce or eliminate plastic pollutants, the Town of Melbourne Beach became the third locality in Brevard to formally take a stance on the matter.

On Oct. 17, the Town Commission passed regulations to prohibit single-use plastics and expanded polystyrene products, the latter of which is commonly referred to as Styrofoam.

The prohibition applies to individuals or groups that rent or use town facilities, such as the Community Center or the Masny Room in Town Hall, along with vendors who sell products at events on town property and subcontractors hired by the town to complete construction and other projects.

“Satellite Beach, Indialantic and Melbourne Beach are the leaders in [Brevard County] in this area,” said Mayor Jim Simmons, who has made it one of his top priorities to reduce single-use plastics since becoming mayor five years ago. “We are pushing each other to stretch the envelope with what the State allows us to do.”

“In Town facilities, it will be part of our vendor, facility rental and subcontractor agreements,” Mr. Simmons continued. “They will be contractually bound to comply or face financial penalties (eg, forfeiture of damage deposit, etc).”

As of Nov. 15, the town’s vendor, subcontractor and facility agreements had been updated to reflect the prohibitions, Mr. Simmons said.

The ban covers all single-use or disposable plastic containers, bowls, plates, trays, cups, lids, straws, stirrers, eating and serving utensils, etc.

Expanded polystyrene products in the form of trays, clamshell containers, egg cartons, meat trays, plates, bowls, cups, containers, lids and coolers are also prohibited.

Single-use plastic bags are permitted but discouraged.

In addition to the regulations, the town is asking visitors to town parks to voluntarily discontinue their use of single-use plastics and EPS products while on park property.

If the voluntary ban is unsuccessful, the town may institute action toward a formal prohibition.

“If we find that we are losing that battle, the Commission agreed to revisit the possibility of adopting an ordinance,” Mr. Simmons said.

Two other localities have also adopted formal documentation aimed at reducing plastic pollutants.

The town of Indialantic adopted resolution 18-09 in June to encourage residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their use and distribution of single-use plastics and EPS products.

Following that, Satellite Beach adopted resolution 1002, also in June, to encourage residents and businesses to discontinue their use of single-use plastic items, such as straws and stir sticks.

Neither document constitutes enforceable legislation.

Rather, each are meant to signify the local government's formal stance and promote a culture change surrounding disposable products, which often end up in nearby waterways.

“We use our Facebook page as a means to encourage it, but we can’t prohibit it from the average beachgoers,” noted Nicholas Frank Sanzone, environmental programs coordinator for the city of Satellite Beach.

While the city does not have enforceable legislation barring beach visitors from using single-use plastics or EPS products, Satellite Beach does have contracts that prohibit those who rent city facilities – such as the Pelican Beach Clubhouse or the David R. Schechter Community Center – from using them while at the facilities.

And the city’s Ordinance 1129, adopted in October 2016, bans employees from purchasing EPS products with city funds and bars vendors from selling, using and disposing of EPS food service products at city events or on city property.

Melbourne Beach intends to follow through with a similar policy covering employees, Mayor Simmons noted.

To view the announcement regarding the plastic prohibitions in Melbourne Beach, go to www.melbournebeachfl.org/home/news/announcement-town-commission-prohibits-single-use-plastics-and-styrofoam-all-town.

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