North Miami retreats from banning plastic straws due to lack of planning

The North Miami City Council declined to ban plastic beverage straws commercially this week. The vote was 3 to 2 against the measure. 

“Some of these things are aspirational,” said City Attorney Jeff Cazeau. “It doesn’t mean that the city is going to change its budget and hire 1,500 new code enforcement officers to go out and cite people.”

Even if the measure is eventually approved, Cazeau said that not everyone will stop using plastic straws. However, he noted that a lot of cities and businesses are adapting to paper straws and becoming more aware of climate change.

Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime and Council members Alix Desulme and Mary Estimé-Irvin voted no. Council members Carol Keys and Scott Galvin voted yes.   

Keys said the way to reinforce the use of paper straws is by educating businesses, but she doesn’t have a plan on how to do that. She won’t go door to door telling businesses to not use plastic straws. “I’m not willing to be the educator,” she said. “What are we going to do to educate? I don’t have an answer for that.”

Galvin added: “If we pass it as an ordinance we better be prepared to reinforce it.” 

Bien-Aime also said that it would be hard to prevent large companies like Starbucks or Publix from using plastic straws. “Those big stars won’t pay attention to us,” he said. 

The measure was proposed by Keys at the last meeting on Feb. 11, when it also failed to pass.

Other Miami-Dade cities have been trying to reduce the use of plastic straws and utensils. Among them are the City of Miami Beach, Surfside and Bal Harbour, which passed bans for most single-use plastics last year.

Maria Lago is a Brazilian journalism student at Florida International University. She loves writing, reading and taking photos. When she graduates she hopes to work at a newspaper, magazine or work with marketing.