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PolitiFact Florida: Reopened Florida beach leads to more trash

More people back on the beaches has led to more litter at Cocoa Beach.

As Floridians have returned to the beaches after shutdown orders were lifted, they have been leaving behind garbage.

“Beachgoers trash Florida beaches with 13,000 pounds of litter after beaches reopen,” stated a headline on the Truththeory website and posted on Facebook on May 12.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) But in this case, the Facebook post has some truth to it.

We found that the number of 13,000 pounds was correct, however, it would have been more accurate to refer to the materials as “garbage” rather than “litter” because some of it was found in trash bins. Also, it was a reference to one specific beach in the state, as explained in the story.

The Facebook post cites a May 9 article by Florida Today about the amount of garbage found on Cocoa Beach once restrictions were lifted.

Starting in late March and then April, the city of Cocoa Beach posted rules that significantly limited use of the beach including the hours, parking and group sizes. But in recent weeks those rules were loosened — and that’s when the garbage piled up.

The city has a contract with Keep Brevard Beautiful to pick up litter on about a five-mile stretch of Cocoa Beach. Typically, they collect between 30 and 50 bags per day, executive director Bryan Bobbitt told PolitiFact. Each bag weighs 40 to 50 pounds.

On Friday, May 1, the organization collected about 33 bags. That grew to 122 bags on Saturday and 142 on Sunday.

In total over that weekend, about 13,560 pounds of garbage was removed, City Manager James McKnight told PolitiFact. Most of the trash was in trash cans or bagged next to trash cans, he said, however, a significant amount was picked up directly from the beach itself.

The police department announced it would fine violators $250 for littering.

Our ruling

A headline said "beachgoers trash Florida beaches with 13,000 pounds of litter after beaches reopen."

That referred to the amount of garbage collected during the first weekend in May at Cocoa Beach. It was the amount of garbage collected from trash bins as well as from the beach, which means it wasn’t all improperly discarded litter.

We rate this claim Mostly True.

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