BEIJING, Aug. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- It feels like sand,
it's on a Florida beach, so must be sand. Wrong. In an unusual recycling twist
Broward County officials are looking into using recycled glass that has been
crushed into tiny grains and mixed with regular sand to spread on the county's
"Basically, what we're doing is taking the material
and returning it back to its natural state," said Phil Bresee, Broward's
The county would become the first in the nation to
combine disposal of recycled glass with bolstering beach sand reserves, Bresee
Sand is valuable in South Florida, where
beach-related business accounts for more than 1 billion U.S. dollars a year for
Broward alone. Sand to re-cover eroded beaches is typically dredged from the
ocean floor and piped to shore ¡ª about 13 million tons of it since 1970 in
But because reef preservation restricts dredge
sites, sand is becoming scarce. Plus, the price is rising as construction
and fuel costs rise and dredge operations are pushed farther offshore. The
county would create only 15,600 tons of the glass sand each year, not enough to
solve its natural sand shortage, but enough to create a reserve for filling
eroded spots before they can worsen, Bresee said.
Most of Broward County's 24 miles of beaches are
considered critically eroded, and more than a quarter of Florida's 1,350-mile
coastline falls into the same category. About 80 million dollars is spent
annually restoring Florida's beaches.
The glass to sand idea grew from the unintentional
consequences of an ocean dump site off Northern California near Fort Bragg.
Beginning in 1949, garbage ¡ª including lots of glass ¡ª was dumped over a cliff
into the ocean, said Charles Finkl, a marine geologist with Boca Raton-based
Coastal Planning and Engineering.
Finkl said that while organic material degraded over
the years, the glass broke up and became smooth as it tumbled in the surf. The
area is now known locally as Glass Beach. Another dump site in Hawaii produced
similar results, Finkl said.
"You talk about glass beach and people have images of
sharp glass shards but it's not that way at all," he said.
Recycled glass also has been used for beaches along
Lake Hood in New Zealand and on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao.