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Expanded Polystyrene

What is Expanded Polystyrene and Why is the City Prohibiting the Use of It?  

Expanded polystyrene, most commonly known as Styrofoam, is a petroleum by-product that is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable and takes hundreds to thousands of years to degrade in the environment. Products that are made from expanded polystyrene can include, but are not limited to, plates, bowls, cups, containers lids, trays, coolers, ice chests, food containers, etc. It can fragment into smaller pieces that can be ingested by marine life and other wildlife, thus harming and killing them and constitutes a portion of the litter in the City’s streets, parks, public places, and waterways.

The City Commission of the City of Coral Gables declares that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety, and welfare of its residents and visitors to reduce litter and pollutants on the land and in the waters of the City. The goal of the ordinance is promote replacing expanded polystyrene items with reusable, recyclable, or compostable alternatives whenever possible thus helping remove it from the waste stream. To help lead by example, the City has ceased purchasing products that are made of expanded polystyrene.

Signed Coral Gables Expanded Polystyrene Ordinance 2016-08 [PDF]

Who Does the Prohibition Apply To?  

  • City Vendors or Contractors in City Facilities,  which include but is not limited to, any building, structure, park, or golf course owned, operated or managed by the City
  • Special Event Permittees and their subcontractors  which include any person or entity issued a special events permit by the City for a special event on City property, in a City facility or in the City’s right-of-way.
  • The City is strongly encouraging businesses to continue using sustainable alternatives. Businesses can qualify for the City's Green Business Certification Program


  • Expanded polystyrene  food service articles used for prepackaged food  that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt;
  • Expanded polystyrene  food service articles used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood or poultry  sold from a butcher case or similar refrigerated retailed display or storage case,
  • Not-for-profit corporations, the school district, and county, state and federal governmental entities. 

When is the Prohibition Being Implemented?  

On January 1, 2017  , Code Enforcement began issuing tickets for violations of the Ordinance. 

Coral-Gables-Plastics-Expanded-Polystyrene-Flyers-Updated-ADA [PDF]

Alternatives to Expanded Polystyrene (Styrofoam) to Consider 

  1. Items that are reusable such as the traditional bowls, cups, and plates that are made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel.(Best Option)
  2. Items that are accepted in the single stream recycling process (Plastics #1-#5 and #7, Paper, etc.)
  3. Items that are Certified Compostable

Additional Resources 

  • Coral-Gables-Plastics-Expanded-Polystyrene-Flyers-Updated-ADA [PDF]
  • List of Sustainable Alternative Products to Single Use Plastic Disposable Items (List Created and Updated by Debris Free Oceans
    • Items listed above are marine degradable and backyard compostable products available in the Miami-Dade County area. Please note that it is always best to first REUSE and REFILL than to switch to any disposable products.
    • Reusables calculator: this online tool calculates the estimated cost savings and environmental benefits that businesses will obtain by using reusable instead of disposable products. Savings estimates can be calculated for a variety of disposable products, including straws, cutlery, cups, plates, and bowls.
  • Reference in this site to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the City of Coral Gables.

If you have any additional questions on the expanded polystyrene ordinance please call Matt Anderson at 305-460-5008 or email