It started with straw bans by local governments a few years ago. It’s continued with numerous businesses taking it upon themselves to cut out single-use plastics on their own. Governor DeSantis has also done his part to keep the education and momentum moving on the topic. DeSantis vetoed the bill that would've banned local governments from banning plastic straws. Most recently, the focus beyond straws has been on single-use plastics in general. It’s not just straws that end up in our waterways and in us (in the form of microplastics when we use them). It’s cups, utensils, and pretty much anything that’s often a one and done product.
The pandemic has provided added motivation and opportunity for businesses to rethink the use of plastics. It’s harder to replace products and change the way you conduct business when you’re in using them daily. It’s a lot easier to make changes when you’re rethinking and reopening your business. Hard Rock Stadium has seized on the opportunity and after initially issuing a goal of eliminating 99.4% of single-use plastics at the stadium this year, they’re now saying they’ll be 100% free of them by 2022. They likely won’t be alone.
Vermont became the first state to ban plastic bags, the ban takes effect on July 1st. Just as we originally saw with the straw bans, it’s possible it becomes a trend. For most businesses and industries, dealing with state or city-specific bans isn’t an efficient model. This could lead to businesses making changes nationwide as a result. Already numerous cities attempted to ban plastic bags including Coral Gables, Gainesville, Miami Beach, Palm Beach, Surfside, and Alachua County. However, Florida has a law banning plastic bag bans, and efforts to prevent bans failed in the court. The best type of behavior doesn’t come from the heavy hand of government anyway. It comes through consumer and business behavior, this is why Hard Rock Stadium’s move is a great example of a huge change in a short time and without the heavy hand of government intervention.
Vermont has a new law that could be a major change catalyst and one of South Florida’s most significant entertainment venues going for most plastic products to none of it is likely the start of the next wave of plastic pullouts across the country. And as a reminder, the reason for the timing at the onset of the pandemic was what we learned about the coronavirus and plastic. According to the National Institutes of Health here’s how long COVID-19 can live in/on various surfaces.
- Air – 3 hours
- Copper – 4 hours
- Cardboard – 24 hours
- Stainless Steel – 2+ days
- Plastic – 3 days
As I've said in the past, there’s a lot we can take away from this, and we’re continuing to see action in that direction, I’d expect to see much more shortly.
Photo by: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images