The mayor said the purpose of the ordinance is not to punish.
The city of Ormond Beach is on its way to banning plastic straws — though there will be no consequences for violators yet.
The commission voted 4-1 at its meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 7 to approve the first reading of an amendment to the city's existing Health and Sanitation ordinance, which once in effect, will become the Health, Sanitation and Environmental Protection ordinance and encompass an article on single-use plastics. The ordinance amendment is a result of City Commissioner Susan Persis' advocacy to reduce all single-use plastics in the city, beginning with plastic straws.
Both Persis and Mayor Bill Partington tweaked the ordinance language at the commission meeting, with the most notable change being the elimination of the enforcement section. Previously, section 11-20 of the ordinance read that, following a grace period, violators of the ordinance would have been subject to penalties under the city's special magistrate citation code enforcement system.
Persis was the commissioner to suggest striking the section from the ordinance. Partington agreed with the approach, saying city government should lead the movement.
He also feared unintended consequences like increasing the use of another form of single-use plastic, citing Starbucks as an example. The company has vowed to eliminate straws by 2020, but will replace them with a plastic sip lid.
“It’s using the carrot — the education approach — rather than the stick — the code enforcement approach," Partington said.
The ordinance calls for a public education program to inform all businesses, residents and visitors why eliminating straws is important.
A total of 11 people spoke on the item during the meeting, one of which was incoming Seabreeze High School ninth-grader Sofia Harris. She said that people come to Ormond to see the beaches, and that single-use plastics cause an "eyesore" and can have a negative effect on wildlife, especially marine life.
“Straws may be one tiny part of this horrible equation, but if we don’t start making changes soon, the future generation will start having drastic consequences for the changes we didn’t make when we had the chance," Harris said.
Dream Green Volusia also had two representatives, including founder Suzanne Scheiber, speak at the meeting. The environmental group currently has a restaurant recognition program for establishments that are making an effort to be more eco-friendly. Ormond Beach currently has one gold-rated business and three silver-rated businesses based on the group's rating.
City Commissioner Rob Littleton was the lone dissenting vote. He agreed that single-use plastic has an environmental impact, but that there are benefits to using them as well in regards to cost and the medical field.
“Do I see the will of zone 4 for a ban on plastic straws?" Littleton said. "I don’t. I don’t even see a clear majority.”
Persis said the ordinance will send a "strong message" that Ormond Beach wants to eventually eliminate single-use plastic products. Restaurants like Stonewood Grill, Frappes Italian Grille, The Grind, The Beach Bucket and Tipsy Taco all support the measure, she added.
“Although straws may seem a small part of the pollution problem, they loom large as being the catalyst for creating new product solutions, a new way of thinking" Persis said.
Because of the changes in the ordinance language, the city commission will need to approve an additional first reading at its next meeting.