Ouch! Would you believe walking on glass sand?
www.chinaview.cn 2007-08-27 16:05:59   Print

    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 beaches.

    "Basically, what we're doing is taking the material and returning it back to its natural state," said Phil Bresee, Broward's recycling manager.

    The county would become the first in the nation to combine disposal of recycled glass with bolstering beach sand reserves, Bresee said.

    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 about 13 million tons of it since 1970 in Broward.

    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 including lots of glass 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.


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Editor: Gareth Dodd
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