Beachlittering by people is becoming a major global concern as litter inbeaches continue to rise (Tjell 863). The main types of litter foundon beaches include plastic materials, cigarette butts, glass beveragebottles, beverage cans, paper bags, caps or lids and food wrappermaterials. These materials are disposed of by people as they go tothe beaches for leisure. Litter from beaches has far reaching adversesocial and economic effects on human beings. The litter also affectsthe lives of animal species in the seas and oceans leading to deathand extinction of some. A study on beach water, conducted in 2007 byMCs, found out that volunteers collected approximately 346,000 wasteitems. More so, an average of more than 2,000 bits of litter or twobits of rubbish was collected on a 168.5 km coastal stretch (Schultzet al. 35-59). The litter dumped on beaches can injure or harm peopleas well as damage the aesthetic beauty of the environment. Inanother study, Torgler, Frey, and Wilson note that about 100,000turtles and marine mammals are killed by plastic litter swept frombeaches (Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy). The followingparagraphs will discuss measures that can be used to curb thelittering menace caused by people on beaches.
Finesand penalties should be imposed on individuals who dispose wastematerials on the beach. This approach makes it less appropriate forpeople to feel “okay” when throwing litter anyhow. Larger fineswould mean more revenue to the government, which plays a vital rolein enforcing litter management policies. The amount of fines andpenalties imposed should vary depending on the amount and type ofwaste disposed of. For instance, the weight or volume of waste isused to determine the severity of the penalty in ten states in theUnited States (Mangone 454). The amount charged should also varydepending on the number of times the individual has committed thecrime. For instance, the fine charged for first-time convicts, inAlabama, is $ 250 while regular offenders attract a fine of $ 500(Mangone 455).
Inaddition to imposing fines and penalties, this policy should beaccompanied by serving a jail term for severe cases (Tjell 864).People who are found disposing more litter and at a high frequencyshould be subjected to more than financial implications. Individualsinvolved in minor cases should face less jail term while individualsinvolved in severe cases should face longer jail term with anaddition of penalties. For instance, in Massachusetts, first-timeviolators are fined $5,500 while subsequent convictions attract up to$15,000. The violators may also be required by the court to removethe litter at their expense. Fifty percent of the imposed fine issaved for the conservation trust. A driver arrested for this offensefaces up to seven days of suspension (Mangone 456).
Inthe event of mass littering, individuals who commit the offenseshould be personally liable for any cost incurred in cleaning thelitter. This requirement should cover any financial cost incurred inremoving the litter as well as any foregone benefit that occurs as aresult of dumping litter on the beaches. This situation is moreevident where individuals prefer some beaches at the expense ofothers which are deemed “dirty” as a result of littering. In theMichigan state, violators are required to pay for the cost ofremoving the litter and any property damage that arises in theprocess (Mangone 457).
Williamsand Antonsuggest that People who litter any material that poses any healthhazard should face stiffer penalties and possible long-term jailterms (Williams and Anton57).For instance, disposing litter of any material from a healthfacility, in Michigan, is considered a misdemeanor and the violationis punishable by serving a term of up to six months in jail and afine of $1,000, or both. Litter that is infectious or ispathological in nature is considered a felony. This violation ispunishable by incarceration of up to two years and a fine of $5,000,or both. Subsequent convictions in this state are punishableincarceration of up to five years and a fine of more than $ 10,000(Mangone 458). Therefore, the type of litter disposed of shoulddetermine the type and severity of punishment an individual faces.This way, littering any hazard waste is put under control.
Banningindividuals, who violate beach regulations by disposing of litter,presents another control measure to reduce beach pollution. The localgovernment, as well as the beach management teams, should ensure thatany individual convicted for littering the beach is banned fromaccessing them. This will ensure that people exercise due care whenoperating their business on the beach if they want to continueenjoying its benefits. Law courts and authorities on the groundshould work hand in hand to ensure that these convicts bear fullresponsibility for their actions (Williams and Anton64).
Schultzalso adds that people should be banned from using non-biodegradablematerials in the beach (Schultz 35). These materials include allplastic materials and glasses that never decompose hence, become athreat to aquatic life as well as human life. The Manhattan Beach banon plastic bags provides an example in this case. Instead of thesenon-biodegradable materials, the city of Manhattan Beach persuadespeople to use reusable bags. The Manhattan city council banned allsingle-use plastic bags at all points of sale and imposed a chargefor using plastic bags (Schultz 36). Huntington Beach also adoptedthis ordinance in 2013 and imposed a pass-through charge of ten centsfor every paper bag used. Other areas that have applied theseordinances include Fort Bragg, Solana Beach, Daly City, South LakeTahoe and Colorado among others (Schultz 37). These ordinances helpto reduce the number of paper bag waste that is found on beaches.
Anothersolution to the littering menace is to impose compulsory cleaning bythe beach community. This allows people around to take beach cleaningas their responsibility and check each other. The beach managementauthorities, in collaboration with the local governments, should setspecific days for general clean-up of beaches involving all membersof the community. The local government should provide any necessaryequipment for the activity. Items such as trash bags, lifting sticksand gloves should be purchased from fines collected from beachlittering offenders. Repetition of this process over a period ensuresthat beaches are tidy throughout. For example, Rwanda has a clean andclassic sandy beach known as Gisenyi at the end of Lake Kivu. Thecommunity in Rwanda is mandated to undertake a mandatory clean-up,where all Rwandese participate once in a month (Karvazy and Webster1). This way, the beach remains clean. However, this move facesresistance from some people who feel that it is the responsibility ofthe local governments to maintain beach cleanliness.
Anotherimportant measure is to ensure that people do not develop structuressuch as tourist hotels and resorts too close to the beaches (MarineLitter Solutions). The construction of such structures results inlittering of beaches. Also, people in those hotels and lounges litterthe beaches by carrying plastic materials such as fresh water andjuice bottles (Marine Litter Solutions). Individuals, as well ashotels, should be held accountable for any litter that results fromthem. This way, the hotel management would advise its customers onthe right way to dispose of their litter. As a precautionary measure,hotels near becahes should provide litter bins for waste purposes.
Thelocal governments in areas with beaches should push for compulsorylitter bins within the beaches. Any person, who disposes of litter inother places other than the litter bins, should face severe penalties(Musereau, Jonathan and Hervé 16). The notion behind this move isthat people are too lazy to walk their trash to available littercans. Availing more cans scattered across the beach would inducepeople to take their trash to those cans hence, reducing littering.
Additionally,people should be forced to attend seminars and workshops conducted bybeach stakeholders to educate the masses on maintaining cleanlinesson the beach. Most people think they know all about beach litteringtherefore, feel it is unnecessary to attend such seminars. The beachmanagement authorities should ensure that those who attend suchseminars are accorded privileges when they visit the beaches(Musereau, Jonathan and Hervé 17). These added benefits may includediscounted beach rides or reduced entry fees. The organizers shouldprovide attendance cards to acknowledge those who attend suchseminars and these would be needed at entry points to enjoy extrabenefits.
Controlmeasures should be put in place to control litter that results frombeach parties (Mangone 460). Beach parties present a threat to thebeaches by acting as sources of litter. Party revelers throw awaybeer cans and other sorts of bottles and materials that pollute thebeaches. According to a report by Schultz, beach litter in the UKrose by a third in 2016 as compared to 2015. The number of plasticbottles found on the beach rose to 43% while metal drinks can rose to29% while lids and caps increased by 41% (Schultz 42). This increasein the litter is attributed to the frequent beach parties thatusually happen during the summer. Musereau, Jonathan, and Hervésuggest that fines and penalties should be imposed on those wholitter beaches during such events (Musereau et al. 19). For instance,the staff members of Ruschmeyer’s were fined for dumping litterwhile on their staff party on Montauk Beach in Long Island. The fourmembers were each fined $6,000 for the offense. Hence, other areasshould follow suit and prosecute such offenders to minimize beachlittering (Irizarry 1).
Althoughthese measures focus more on punishment, other approaches thatencourage beach cleaning should be embraced. First, people should beencouraged to volunteer and participate in beach cleaning. Forinstance, the volunteer activity carried out to clean the shores ofSunset Beach in Dubai saw an estimated number of 700 volunteers fromfourteen schools together with the community members (Marine LitterSolutions). These volunteers joined to clean the beach and benefitedfrom education from the UAE Ministry of Climate Change andEnvironment in conjunction with the Dubai Municipality. The campaigndamped “Waste Free Environment” aimed at reinforcing the conceptof responsible disposal of litter as well promoting recycling and itsbenefits. Second, Schools should also be encouraged to start “CleanUp” campus programs. These programs should incorporate activitiessuch as placement of litter receptacles and trash pick-ups as well asprojects that allow students to track the origin of trash (Mangone462).
Inconclusion, it is clear that beach littering has adverse effects onhuman life and other aquatic life. The methods available to counterthis problem range from more punishable approaches to education ones.The cleaning of beaches is not only a responsibility of beachmanagement authority and local governments, but also includes allmembers of the society. As Mangone indicates “responsibility beginswith you and me” (464) therefore, it is the duty of all to ensurethat beaches remain clean and tidy irrespective of the period of theyear. Thus, strategies that incorporate regulations, market-basedinstruments as well as community initiatives are a prerequisite inaddressing the beach litter problem. Non-governmental organizationsand other private stakeholders should also join the fight to ensure aholistic and integrated method in litter control. The nationalgovernments should get involved in formulating laws, regulations,action plans and conventions for effective management of the problem(Marine Litter Solutions). There is also the importance of ensuringcooperation among various sectors such as fisheries, tourism,shipping and local authorities as they play a fundamental role inaddressing beach litter.
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