USA: Broward Researches Use of Processed Glass for Beach Renourishment

Broward County is known for its twenty-three miles of award winning beaches. Broward’s beaches attract an estimated 7.2 million visitors and contribute $548 million annually to Broward County’s economy. But, like beaches worldwide erosion is a problem and beach renourishment is necessary.

Broward Commissioners have asked that county staff conduct research to determine if using processed glass, instead of natural sand, is economically feasible prior to funding additional environmental testing.

“The idea that we might be able to take something that’s being thrown away now and turn it into silica sand, which glass is made of, and use it on the beach and find our own source I think is really exciting,” said Mayor Kristin Jacobs who brought the issue forward for Commission discussion.

Preliminary environmental testing was conducted in 2008 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection but fell short of funding prior to completion and was inconclusive. Commissioners were told an estimated $1.5 million may be necessary to conduct additional environmental testing and monitoring over a three year period.

“How much source material is available? What is the cost of glass today as opposed to when we first looked at it? Has it declined? I’m very much in favor of it because, after all, glass is sand, its silica,” said Commissioner Sue Gunzburger.

Our problem is we don’t know if this is more cost effective. We need to determine the following: that this is the cost for beach sand. This is the cost of sand if it’s dredged up by the ton. This is the cost of sand from an upland source and this is the cost of sand if you got it from the glass project,” said Commissioner Chip LaMarca.

“I support this project and believe we should turn to the state and federal government for cooperative funding,” said Commissioner Stacy Ritter.

“I too support the concept, but there are so many holes, I’m not willing to authorize $1.5 million but I am willing to say: tell us how much money you need to get us what we need to do a comparison of cost,” said Commissioner Lois Wexler.

“It’s my understanding Palm Beach looked at this and it’s my understanding that they determined that it wasn’t cost effective, and so I’d like some information on why they made that determination,” noted Commissioner Martin David Kiar.

Another concern discussed is the ability to recycle enough glass to supplement beach renourishment.

My sense of it is, if it was economically feasible than currently there would be some private entity that would have stepped in and would have acquired some site to convert this glass into glass sand. The next step is, do we have a site in Broward County that is actually feasible to conduct such an operation,” said Commissioner Tim Ryan.

Commissioners agreed to consider funding for environmental testing once a cost analysis has been conducted and additional information brought forward at a future date.

Press Release, August 19, 2013

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