Deerfield Beach, Fla., has proudly taken steps to keep its scenic community sustainable and trash free. Its approach has even successfully harnessed citizen action.
The Cleaner Greener Deerfield Beach is an overall program that has been ongoing since the formation of the Department of Sustainable Management, according to David A. Miller, CPRP, director of parks and recreation.
“This endeavor was undertaken to make the city cleaner and greener and to educate the public on the importance of environmental sustainability,” said Miller, adding that the program includes Litter-Free Deerfield Beach, Adopt-A-Road, Beach Sweep Volunteering, composting and compressed natural gas garbage and recycling trucks.
The Litter-Free Deerfield Beach program came into being after last year’s Fourth of July celebration with the help of the JM Family Foundation, added Miller. Its focus is on keeping the beach clean versus Cleaner Greener Deerfield Beach, which refers to the entire city of Deerfield Beach and is collaborated mission of the sustainable management department.
“July 5, 2017, was a good time to begin these beach-cleaning efforts because the July 4 celebration annually brings more than 80,000 guests to our beach and with that comes a lot of litter,” said Miller, noting it is the busiest cleanup day.
“JM Family has been a wonderful partner and sponsor of the program, and we look forward to continuing this relationship — they’ve helped with supplying the weight-driven buckets of trash and the participant rewards (T-shirts, etc.). We host many cleanup events throughout the year, and we also host the International Coastal Cleanup where we have about 300 volunteers.”
JM Family Enterprises’ environmental sustainability manager Cristina Abboud Hicks said, “Since 1981, JM Family Enterprises has called Deerfield Beach home, and our commitment to this community, its families and the natural environment, which we all share runs deep. It is for this reason that we are so happy to facilitate the creation of the Litter-Free Deerfield Beach campaign, which we are confident will raise awareness, promote environmental stewardship and protect our coastlines. We take great pride in our local beaches and are eager to help keep them clean so that we can protect the health of our oceans, safeguard the well-being of marine life and contribute to a healthier and more prosperous Deerfield Beach.”
Cleanup kits provided by the city are placed at the Pier Bait Shop and made available for beach visitor checkout. Contents of the kit include a 2-gallon bucket for litter, gloves and a sifter for small things in the sand. Participants use the bucket to collect trash on and around the beach.
After they are done, they return the items to the Bait Shop so the impacts of the program can be tracked. Participation will also be tracked, and first-timers will receive a cool sticker, with returning participants receiving a T-shirt after their fourth visit.
Residents and visitors have been very receptive to the cleanup efforts, said Miller, and local businesses are also interested in getting involved.
“During most cleanup events, elementary and middle school children have been the majority of the participants. We see this as a great way to teach environmental stewardship. This is also a way for students to earn community service hours,” Miller said.
He added, “As far as participation, Beach Sweep Volunteering continues to bring the most volunteers for each single event.”
The city is happy to provide cleanup materials to parties interested in hosting their own beach cleanup. Groups just need to return any unused supplies and to provide basic data on a supplied form.
The Adopt-A-Road program incentivizes civic-focused groups to each choose a section of roadway within the city of Deerfield Beach and commit to removing litter from that section a minimum of four times a year for two years. In return, the city will post signs with the group’s name at both ends of the section. The city provides all needed supplies and will pick up the bags of litter accumulated.
Composting is another program that benefits Ma Nature, and according to Miller, the city offers compost bins at its recycling drop-off center at a cost of $50.
“We also conduct a monthly random raffle to all residents who recycle based on their (radio frequency ID) tag in each cart, and we provide a free month of service to 10 residents each month. We also offer a full year of free service quarterly to one lucky winner,” said Miller.
Deerfield Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency is also connected with the Beach, but not the entire beach, as it is tasked with “utilizing tax increment revenue (TIR) to creatively partner with the private sector to increase investment in the CRA district as well as upgrade the area’s public infrastructure,” according to its website.
“The CRA has recently constructed/renovated the Deerfield Beach Café Building, which sits at the entrance to the International Fishing Pier and is LEED Gold certified,” said Miller. “The building uses energy from natural gas and electricity and uses water from a municipal potable water system. They are also in the process of redeveloping the North Beach Pavilion where construction is expected in the next fiscal year.” It brings Miller great satisfaction to see local businesses and residents coming together through citizen action to maintain/keep their beaches clean for all to enjoy now and in the future.
Finally, the city of Deerfield Beach Recycling and Solid Waste Management fleet has switched to CNG as a means of reducing environmental impact and increasing efficiency. Additionally, the automated collection of trash allows the drivers to remain in the vehicles, which cuts down on work-related injuries and improves route efficiency. A third benefit is that overhead cost is reduced; this translates to lower customer pricing.
The carts are equipped with exclusive RFIDs tags, which are scanned by readers on the new collection trucks to collect data to aid the city in enhancing services and for rewarding residents who recycle.
According to Patrick Bardes, Deerfield Beach’s Coastal and Waterway coordinator/liaison to the Marine Advisory Board, the city’s new CNGpowered vehicles are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
This enables exhaust air to be cleaner than what the truck inhales. Further, the trucks result in cheaper maintenance, faster service routes and lower poisonous emissions.
To Bardes, who is instrumental in the city’s beach cleanup initiatives, the biggest challenge in switching to CNG vehicles is the availability of this natural gas.
“We currently do not have our own fueling station,” said Bardes, “and one is not budgeted at this time.”