Miami Beach businesses joining plastic-free pledge

Miami Beach officials are pushing to get more businesses on board with the city’s plastic-free pledge which they say will protect the environment.

According to a press release sent by city officials, nearly eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year and which kills 100 million marine animals annually.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber stated in a press release that businesses are a key factor in reducing plastic use. According to the pledge website, ten businesses have joined the program since its Nov. 14th start. Though there are no financial incentives, participants are permitted to display their commitment by a sticker provided by the city and will be recognized on Miami Beach social media platforms.

“Integrating sustainability into your business model is no easy feat, and we’re excited to recognize those with the dedication to being environmentally conscious as we create an economic culture that values protecting our beautiful paradise,” said Gelber.

The program has three levels. In level one, businesses no longer offer plastic straws or plastics bags. Level two requires an additional plastic item from a list to be eliminated. Level three businesses need to be 100 percent plastic free and switch to reusable materials.

Jeremy Waks, the co-founder of Debris Free Oceans, said he is in full support of the program.

“Plastics are not biodegradable and will continue to persist in our ecosystems for thousands of years. There are many great alternatives to plastics and Miami Beach is leading the way to help offer cost efficient solutions to this problem,” said Waks.

Restaurant owner Tina Torterola said she joined the pledge because it reminded her of the lifestyle in Maui.

“We have never carried plastic bags and the take-out items we do use are all biodynamic and used with recycled materials. With our concept of organic living it is a key part of what we stand for by being plastic free,” she said.

The Palms Hotel and Spa has also signed up. Tanja Morariu, director of marketing of the hotel, said the hotel has been eco-friendly for almost 10 years.

“Being plastic free is the way to go. We cannot continue producing and consuming as much plastic as we do in the world today, since there will be nowhere else for it to go and it’s made of a non-renewable resource, “she said. “We also need the industry to produce more viable options at more affordable prices and we need a composting facility in Miami Dade.”

Alberto Pozzi, managing director of Normandy Shores Golf, said he is proud of the initiative their facility took to be plastic free.

“When we first heard of the plastic free pledge we were motivated and felt like it was the right thing to do. Our goal is to be plastic free and we thought it would be a great idea to join,“ he said.