GALVESTON — The Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees collected more than 15,000 plastic bottles and aluminum cans from Stewart Beach this summer, surpassing expectations for the pilot program it launched to organize recycling efforts on its beaches.
Between June 22 and Sept. 13, the park board collected 11,854 plastic bottles and 4,125 aluminum cans, according to information supplied to the park board Beach Maintenance Advisory Committee.
Park board Chairman Craig Brown said the program was launched to see how well an in-house program would function, as opposed to hiring an outside company to do the work. The project was funded by a grant from the Kempner Foundation.
Brown said he was impressed with the results and with the person hired to manage the program, 23-year-old intern Victor Viser.
Viser, who recently graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in philosophy, was hired as an intern at the beginning of the summer. He was essentially handed an idea for a recycling plan and told to create a way to manage it and to analyze the data.
Instead of having a truck drive the beach once a day and empty barrels, a team of park board employees patrolled the beach and emptied the barrels periodically.
Viser credited park board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun for coming up with the idea, but park board officials lauded Viser for his organization and management abilities.
Viser said he was pleased with the amount of material collected.
“I had set those goals down, and right at the end, we finally achieved it,” Viser said.
One obstacle Viser said he encountered during the summer was that opportunistic bottle collectors would poach aluminum and plastic from the cans before they could be collected.
The plastic bottles collected from the program were brought to the city’s EcoCenter. Eight bags of aluminum containers, each weighing about 30 pounds, will be taken to a scrap metal center and are expecting to return about $100.
De Schaun said the real savings from the program come from the decreased use of heavy equipment and gas and reduced fees from the city dump.
The park board plans to extend its recycling program to East Beach and Dellanera RV Park next summer, and will add signs and trash can wraps advertising the recycling initiative at both beaches. Brown said the program will hopefully be extended to all five park board-managed beaches.