Florida DEP Report Shows Strong Support for Statewide Action to Address Single-Use Plastics - Oceana USA

Florida DEP Report Shows Strong Support for Statewide Action to Address Single-Use Plastics

Oceana Urges State Legislature to Reverse Law Prohibiting Local Policies on Plastics

Press Release Date: January 7, 2022

Location: Washington, DC


Dustin Cranor, APR, Melissa Valliant | email: dcranor@oceana.org, mvalliant@oceana.org | tel: 954.348.1314, 410.829.0726 (cell)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A new report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) finds that increased awareness about the impacts of improper waste disposal, including single-use plastic, has led many Floridians to look for ways to “reduce waste, increase recycling, and promote environmentally friendly decisions regarding the products and packaging used in their everyday lives.” In its Update of the 2010 Retail Bags Report to the state legislature, the FDEP says that “single-use plastics such as retail bags and carryout food containers are among those materials commonly identified as needing additional control,” which has driven local, state, and federal action aimed at regulating their use, including in Florida.

“It’s time to address single-use plastics in Florida, and this report shows that there’s strong support for doing just that,” said Hunter Miller, a Florida field representative at Oceana. “Single-use plastic bags and food containers are among the most common plastic waste items found along Florida’s coasts. Manatees and sea turtles are ingesting and becoming entangled in plastic bags, and plastic food containers are ending up on our streets and beaches, eventually breaking up into smaller pieces that contaminate our food, water, air, and soil.”

The report, which ultimately calls for statewide action to address the problem, includes results from surveys of stakeholders, including Florida residents and local governments. Among the report’s top findings include:

  • 93% of Floridians and 97% of local governments surveyed believe regulating plastic containers, wrappings, and bags is necessary.
  • 89% of Floridians and local governments surveyed believe regulating plastic containers, wrappers, and bags would be effective.
  • 82% of Floridians and 90% of local governments surveyed support additional waste reduction, reuse, and recycling through increased fees.

The report also highlights that roughly 7,000 tons of plastic entered Florida’s marine environment in 2020. Oceana is urging the Florida state legislature to reverse its law prohibiting municipal and county governments from enacting policies to regulate plastic bags and other single-use plastics.

“Cities and towns should be able to regulate single-use plastics,” said Miller. “It’s time for the state legislature to give power back to our local municipalities.”

An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment from land-based sources every year — roughly the equivalent of dumping two garbage trucks full of plastic into the ocean every minute. This marine plastic threatens everything from fish to sea turtles to whales. A report from Oceana revealed that nearly 1,800 marine mammals and sea turtles — the majority of which were from endangered species — had swallowed or become entangled in plastic along American coastlines between 2009 and early 2020. Incidences of plastic killing or injuring these animals were higher off the coasts of Florida and neighboring states than any other region in the U.S.

On top of plastic’s harmful impacts to marine life, plastic has now been found in our water, our food, our soil, our air, and our bodies, and scientists are still learning how this may be affecting human health. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.

For more information about Oceana’s campaign to end the plastic pollution crisis, please visit usa.oceana.org/plastics.

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit USA.Oceana.org to learn more.