Small South Florida island shows scope of plastic problem as regulation bills stall

For weeks, environmental and community activists have been pushing against a pair of bills in the Florida legislature that would ban local governments from regulating single-use plastics.

It comes as the globe is in the grips of an ever-growing plastic crisis. Right now, an estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enters the ocean each year, and plastic production is expected to quadruple in the next 30 years.

On Wednesday, HB 1641 met a similar fate to its Senate counterpart, SB 1162, and was temporarily postponed in committee.

While the bills have stalled, plastic pollution has not.

Our Local 10 News crew witnessed the impact of that pollution firsthand when they visited Sands Key, a tiny island just north of Elliott Key, joining a team of volunteers from Clean This Beach Up and the National Park Service as part of Biscayne National Park’s Beach Cleanup program.

The teams arrived on the island, determined to pick up all the debris and trash that was smothering this natural gem in the heart of southern Biscayne Bay. But they were unprepared for the giant mess they would find.

“Jesus. Really?” exclaimed Local 10 Environmental Advocate Louis Aguirre as he combed through the mangroves and discovered what essentially looked like a junkyard.

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