Published On: Mon, Jul 5th, 2021

New cleanup initiatives flow from Boca’s Office of Sustainability

By: Dale King

Many new initiatives are coming out of the Boca Raton Office of Sustainability, headed by Sustainability Manager Lindsey Nieratka.

These initiatives are all products of the city’s Sustainability Action Plan released in 2019. The plan included recommendations to conduct a variety of assessments to create baselines to determine future actions and measure progress. 

The Boca City Council has taken a couple of major steps this year toward waste reduction. The plan calls for the lessening of litter and plastic pollution.

Most recently, council members adopted Ordinance 5580 at the June 8 meeting, which happened to be World Oceans Day. The ordinance adopted unanimously that night prohibits the following:

— Polystyrene foam products from use or sale by temporary food vendors on city property.

— The use of balloons and confetti on outdoor city property.

Local officials say Boca is in the process of updating regulations and policies for events and facility rentals to reflect these goals. 

In addition, the city will provide public information and resources on alternatives and ideas that will assist in working toward a sustainable future. 

The plastics prohibition proposed by Councilmember Monica Mayotte also establishes a ticket fine ranging from $25 to $50 for violations of the ordinance.

In a letter of explanation, City Manager Leif Ahnell told council members that “the intention of the ordinance is to protect the health and well-being of city residents and to support sustainable practices by prohibiting the use or sale of polystyrene foam food ware, unencapsulated polystyrene foam products, balloons and confetti on city property and in city facilities.”

He said the prohibition “extends to temporary vendors, city contractors and special event permittees.”

“It is not my intention to penalize families who bring restaurant-packaged foods to events,” Mayotte said during a public hearing on the ordinance. “We are going for temporary vendors at events in the city.”

The ordinance defines “polystyrene foam” as material “commonly used to make disposable cups, bowls, plates, trays, clamshell containers, meat trays and egg cartons and is commonly, though often, incorrectly, referred to by the trademark name, ‘Styrofoam.’”

More than 25 other communities in Florida have banned the same plastic materials, said Mayotte, among them, Boynton Beach, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, St. Augustine and Orlando.  The Boca ordinance is based on one of these city laws.

The ordinance approved at the June 8 meeting is actually the council’s second litter-control effort approved during 2021. Earlier this year, members established a $250 fine for the improper disposal of COVID-19 protective items such as masks, plastic face coverings, gloves and other paraphernalia. The ban impacts these items when discarded as litter both on land and in waterways.

The Sustainability Plan also mandated a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which was released in April of 2020.  The GHG inventory highlights the major sources of greenhouse gases for both city operations and the community and is design to help the city focus on greenhouse gas reduction actions for the highest impact. 

The second assessment, scheduled for release this month, is a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment being worked on as part of the Coastal Resilience Partnership. That assembly is made up of the county and seven municipalities for the purpose of addressing the shared challenges presented by climate change. 

The final report will be available at  

The third assessment, currently underway, is an assessment of the city’s tree canopy which is scheduled to be released this summer. The study’s goal is to map the land cover and extent of urban trees in very close detail and understand how canopy is distributed across the city. For more information on these assessments, the Waste Reduction ordinance and other sustainability topics, visit

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