Boca’s new waste reduction law is geared to temporary vendors on city property selling balloons and confetti, and food vendors using Styrofoam containers at outdoor events, explained Councilwoman Monica Mayotte, who helped shape the new ordinance.
It’s meant to reduce waste that gets thrown away and ends up in waterways, adding to ocean pollution that gets eaten and kills marine life, Mayotte explained before the 5-0 vote. “Let us be the leader to protect our oceans,” she said.
Although the law applies to city park pavilion renters, “it’s not my intention for families who gets food to go and take it to a park. We’re going after bigger events and vendors,” she noted.
A cadre of speakers came out to support the measure. Among them were Boca Save Our Beaches president Jessica Gray, “Troubled Waters: A Turtle’s Tale” director Rory Fielding and FAU professor Karen Leader. “I work with a lot of young people and hear what they’re worried about,” Leader said.
When he was making the documentary shown on public TV, “it woke me up to see it everywhere,” even 12 miles offshore, Fielding said. He called the new ordinance “not enough, but a great start.”
“The plastic pollution crisis is here, and it won’t go away,” Gray said. “Balloons are blown away and get mistaken for food.”
The only pushback came from Guillermo Aska, representing Party City and retailers that sell balloons and confetti. “People who earn a living in this industry do consumer awareness and education,” he told city council.
“We’re not opposing sales,” Mayotte told him, adding. “I want to see how it goes and get feedback.”
Mayor Scott Singer called the measure “sensible, and I think people will comply.”
By Marci Shatzman