GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) -Keeping beaches clean along the Alabama Gulf Coast can be a problem anytime, but especially after a busy weekend.
The July 4 weekend helped city officials in Gulf Shores come up with a creative idea to clean up trash on the beach, and, make a little bit of money at the same time.
RECYCLING AND TRASH COLLECTION
The City of Gulf Shores has crews out during the day to empty garbage from trash cans around the beach.
However, some people throw trash onto the beach instead of into the cans.
After plenty of trash was left on the beach following the July 4 weekend, city officials came up with a new plan to keep the beach clean.
Mark Acreman, public works director for the city of Gulf Shores, said, “We’ve started a recycling and trash collection program along our public beaches and in front of the condominiums to try to collect all the garbage that our visitors and our residents are leaving behind.”
It can be a strenuous and messy job.
Acreman said, “We’ll take all of those bags that we’ve collected, from the Gulf State Park to West 11th Street, and we’ll take them to a compound, and we’ll open those bags up, dump them out on a table, and hand sort the materials that we can recycle out of that garbage stream.”
HOW MUCH IS RECYCLABLE?
You might be surprised to learn how much of what is found is recyclable.
Acreman said, “Out of the garbage stream we’re seeing right now, about 30 percent is true garbage, and about 70 percent is recyclable materials.”
With the city getting about 64 cents a pound for aluminum, Acreman said, “We’re close to a thousand dollars if we can fill up a highly compacted dumpster. It is some serious cash here, but, also, it’s really not what this is about. We’re more about doing the right thing and, hopefully, we get a little payback for it in the process.”
BEACH RENTAL COMPANIES HELPING
The city is also getting help picking up garbage bags in front of condominiums by partnering with beach rental companies, like Ike’s Beach Service.
The owner of Ike’s Beach Service, Ike Williams, said, “The recycle program is great. Its something that we’ve wanted to see in place for a long time. There’s a lot of waste out there, a lot of aluminum.”
LEFTOVER CHAIRS AND TENTS
A lot of recyclable aluminum comes from items you might not think of, according to Acreman, “Aluminum chairs, folding chairs, aluminum pop up tents that are left on the beach.”
This is a pilot program. However, if things keep going well, the separating and sorting could continue well into the future.
Aside from cleaner beaches, there’s another benefit to the program.
More recyclable materials means less trash to bring the landfill, which the city has to pay to dispose of.