Main menu


Breakthrough CAP Study suggests Miami ban plastics, do more cleanups and step up education programs on ways to clean area waters | Miami

To protect the environment and the area’s waterways, Miami should invest in more inland, community and beach clean ups, and focus on reducing plastic pollution by banning plastic bags and regulating non-recyclable packaging, according to a study from Ocean Conservancy and the University of Georgia.

The study, released last month, included information to raise public awareness of recycling programs in the community and schools.

After nearly a year of research and work, Miami Mayor Francis Suraez said Miami is the first American city to finish a Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP) study.

“Miami’s beaches and waterways are the heartbeat of our community and local economy,” Suarez said. “We must do everything we can to protect our beautiful city for generations to come.”

The city can use the study as a guide to deciding how plastic is used and disposed of, how circularity can be increased, and what materials end up on the ground and later in Miami’s waters.

Community present at the press conference praised the study and the city’s efforts to clean up the environment.

According to the study, to help protect Miami’s waters, the city can provide incentives to vendors for using recycled products, and get the community and schools involved in a campaign to raise awareness of recycling programs.

As an indicator of the severity of the issue at hand, it was noted that in May of 2021, 10,122 pounds of litter and debris were discovered in Miami, particularly in the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. The highest litter densities were found in areas with a low population.

The CAP study encourage Miami to beef up its community and beach clean up programs so residents learn the connection between litter in their neighborhoods and the health of area waters.

“Debris winds up in our waters from places that are not obvious,” the study said. “What happens in neighborhoods far from the Miami River or Biscayne Bay has an impact.”

Also, the pipeline for all this litter impacts the city’s stormwater infrastructure.

Plastic fragments, food wrappers and tobacco products are the most prevalent items contributing to urban litter in Miami, 55 percent of the litter items documented being plastic items. This all consistent with findings from Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup.

The CAP study recommended the city ban plastic bags and regulate packaging that is non-recyclable in Miami’s current recycling system.

Miami-Dade County has more than 95,000 stormwater inlets, catch basins and grates, according to the study.

More than 16 million pounds of debris were projected to enter the inlets each year.

The analysis said the city’s initiative to improve storm drains which was launched last year creates opportunities for outreach to ensure that people are aware of the investment and infrastructure and what they can do to help prevent plastic pollution.

The current initiative focuses on upgrading storm drains launched with 1,000 filters, 200 for each commission district, to be installed as scheduled.

“What happens on land has a lasting impact on the health of Biscayne Bay, the Miami River and the ocean,” said Jon Paul “JP” Brooker, director of the Florida Conservation for Ocean Conservancy. “Completing the CAP study is a major accomplishment for Miami. It is an incredible tool for determining where debris comes from, so we can take action to stop plastic pollution from devastating our waters.”

Dr. Jenna Jambeck, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering, said while it’s important that “we” accurately record plastic and other litter that we see on the ground or in the water, the CAP involves several other key components.

“For example, we go to local stores to see what kinds of products are most frequently sold and how they are packaged, we examine waste management practices, and we work closely with members of the community to better understand local attitudes about conservation and pollution, Jambeck said.

“The entire process is in collaboration with local partners and the city or community to highlight strengths and recommend actions to increase circularity and keep plastics out of the environment.”

Protecting the environment is essential to environmentalists and water clean-up advocates which was evident last week when three people were arrested after a video showing them popping balloons on a charter yacht and dumping them in Biscayne Bay went viral.

“Biscayne Bay is at a tipping point. It’s at a crisis,” said City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell

Last week, workers for FDOT and the City of Miami Solid Waste Department cleaned up litter, old tents and large debris along the MacArthur Causeway that were left there by homeless people.