Friday, September 27, 2019

Tampa Bay Sierra Volunteers Score with NFL for Stadium Recycling Effort

Volunteers in the Tampa Bay Group's Stadium Recycling Initiative at a recent game.
The NFL has recognized nationwide the Tampa Bay Sierra Club Stadium Recycling Initiative at Raymond James Stadium in its "Huddle for 100" program!  In honor of the National Football League’s 100th season, the NFL has created the “Huddle for 100” program which  invites fans to partner with them, the players and their teams to choose a cause, volunteer 100 minutes of their time and help shape their community in a positive manner. The NFL’s goal is to record 100 million volunteer minutes in one season across the United States. It is a major NFL undertaking and is being promoted through radio and television advertising along with social media.

Tampa Bay's stadium recycling lead volunteer David Varrieur submitted the application on behalf of the Tampa Bay Group. The application basically stated: “This is the Tampa Bay Sierra Club's Stadium Recycling Initiative. It's the first NFL recycling program started in 1990. We have 20 volunteers @ 2 hours per event for all events. 120 minutes per person per event. 2,400 minutes per person annually. 48,000 minutes annually as a group. We recycled with Jack Groh (Director of the NFL Environmental Program) for Superbowl XLIII.”

Thousands of entries were submitted from all over the United States. But only one could be featured on the prestigious “20 million milestone reached!” section of the NFL Huddle for 100 website. That one is the Tampa Bay Sierra Club Group. The effort encourages game, event and concert attendees to recycle on the spot and at home.  Kudos to everyone involved  in this amazing accomplishment! 

To see the NFL acknowledgement of the Tampa Bay volunteers, click the link below scroll to the “20 million milestone reached!” section.

The Stadium Recycling Initiative works like this:

Prior to the start of each stadium event, Sierra Club volunteers act as event day educational ambassadors. They encourage spectators to recycle using the recycling stations located both in and out of the stadium. A typical event will include 20 volunteers dressed in Sierra Club shirts. They stand at recycling stations at entry gates around the stadium, thanking guests for supporting the Sierra Club recycling program. 

This season, volunteers expanded into the parking lots and adjacent streets picking up plastic, aluminum and glass containers to bring back and deposit into the stadium recycling bins. Their efforts have resulted in collecting thousands of tons of recycled materials annually that may have ended up in incinerators.

After their shift, the volunteers are compensated by free entry into the event and they sit in the employee seating areas around the stadium. The Sierra Club Tampa Bay Group is compensated financially per event. This program is continuously the single largest annual fundraiser for them.

The Stadium Recycling Initiative continues to be an incredible recycling success story for the Tampa Bay community and fundraiser for the Tampa Bay Group. This season  events  include the Gasparilla Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the first XFL game and WrestleMania. The volunteers are also hopeful that the group will be invited to work the Superbowl in 2021. 

Interested in joining the team?  Contact David Varrieur at to volunteer for this great community program.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Get Specific! Sierra Club Comments on the Blue-Green Algae Task Force Draft Consensus Document

Sierra Club Comments on Blue-Green Algae Task Force Draft Consensus Document
September 25, 2019

If this document is a blueprint for the development of specific regulatory recommendations to come, then the Sierra Club considers this a positive first step.

This document can be only a first step because it includes not one specific regulatory action recommendation; the closest it comes is to suggest broader adoption of the current regulations prohibiting permitting of conventional septic systems on lots of 1 acre or less in Outstanding Florida Spring watersheds.

Governor DeSantis has been regaling in the fact that he has called for increased fines for local governments that fail to meet water quality standards, but nowhere in this document do we see any recommended regulatory action that will help local governments meet higher water quality standards.  In fact, the preemption to the state of regulations that are critical to the protection of local watersheds has been ignored.  The best example of this is the state law that currently prohibits local governments from keeping urban fertilizer ordinance non-compliant products off local retail shelves.  And let us not forget biosolids.

Although the weaknesses and failures of current agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) were addressed, the obvious need for mandatory BMPs is most glaringly missing.  If local governments are being held to higher, stricter, and fineable standards, then these recommendations need to aggressively address agricultural runoff.

If this document remains a set of generalized recommendations, and the work of the Task Force produces nothing but non-specific recommendations, it will be easy for the legislature, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to have an excuse, and cover, for refusing to take effective action.

Sierra Club urges the Task Force members, Dr. Frazer, Secretary Valenstein, and Governor DeSantis to ensure that the result of this effort results in specific regulatory action recommendations.

Our questions today are:
  1. Will the Task Force next be delving into the details and making specific suggestions?
  2. Or will FDEP next be delving into the details and making specific suggestions?
  3. What are the timeframes and accountability processes for the specific recommendations?
  4. Will specific recommendations be made to the legislature?

Diana Umpierre, AICP
Organizing Representative
Everglades Restoration Campaign
Sierra Club
136A S. Main Street (P.O. Box 2347), Belle Glade, FL 33430
(954) 829-7632
(561) 983-8655

Summer of 2018 [Photo by John Moran]

Eliminate the preemption to the state of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales!

Sierra Club Comments to Blue-Green Algae Task Force
September 24, 2019

Local governments must be allowed to protect their own watersheds.  This Task Force’s recommendations must include a recommendation to pass legislation to eliminate the preemption to the state of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales (F.S. §570.07 (41) (a)).  

The preemption to the state of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales is absolutely and directly contrary to the protection of local watersheds from nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

There are currently thirteen counties and over eighty municipalities that have adopted or are covered by urban fertilizer ordinances that restrict the seasonal application of nitrogen and phosphorus urban fertilizers.  However, due to the 2011 preemption of control over the sale of those nitrogen and phosphorus urban fertilizers, only Pinellas County, its municipalities, and the City of Tampa have the ability to keep products which are illegal to apply in those jurisdictions off retail shelves.

This preemption:
  • Denies local governments the easiest and lowest cost method in which to enforce their urban fertilizer ordinances;
  • Gives an unfair advantage to retailers – professional fertilizer applicators are prohibited from applying/selling the restricted products to their customers;
  • Dampens the market for the multitude of ordinance-compliant products, many of which are produced by Florida-based fertilizer manufacturers;
  • Allows retailers to sell illegal-to-use products to unknowing customers;
  • Encourages unknowing customers to violate local ordinances and be subject to fines; and
  • Diminishes the source control effectiveness of the ordinances, and therefore reduces the ability of the local government to protect its own watershed and local economy.

Fining local governments for pollution events makes no sense if the state is simultaneously tying their hands when it comes to the enforcement of important stormwater pollution source control measures.

Eliminating the preemption of the regulation of retail urban fertilizer sales is an easy lift for the legislature.  The only opponents to this action would be those now benefiting from the sale of illegal-to-use products and for whom the state should have no sympathy.

Diana Umpierre, AICP
Organizing Representative
Everglades Restoration Campaign
Sierra Club
136A S. Main Street (P.O. Box 2347), Belle Glade, FL 33430
(954) 829-7632
(561) 983-8655