Miami Beach Gets Its First One-Stop Recycling Center

By | November 23rd, 2010 | 14 Comments
Miami Beach's Giant Pink Snails

Miami Beach's Giant Pink Snails are designed to promote recycling in a community with a late-blooming eco-consciousness.

Most aspects of my life have improved since I moved to Miami Beach over the summer. I’m nearer the ocean and a lovely public park, surrounded by good eateries and gawk-worthy women, and able to walk or ride my bike to most everywhere I want to go locally. The one downside to life on the Beach, however, is the difficulty of recycling, the most basic act of environmentalism.

Yes, there are recycling bins scattered across the city, but not enough. And in this age of heightened eco-conscientiousness, an ad-hoc drop-off system is hardly sufficient. Worse, it’s an embarrassment to a community that is so young and supposedly progressive as Miami Beach.

The condo I live in does not recycle — as a building with more than eight units, the city does not require it to. So every week, my plastics and other recyclables pile up in a bin under my sink until I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes I thrust them upon a visiting friend who lives in a part of Miami that does recycle. Sometimes I drive them to a drop-off spot. On occasion I’ve even stuffed them into a stranger’s recycling bin, an act of enviro-crime that makes me feel green in a bad way.

I realize the deficiency of Miami Beach’s recycling program has been covered in the past (see HERE, for example). But with the recent invasion of the Giant Pink Snails, which are made of recycled material and “designed to inspire a community-wide conversation about the importance of recycling and its environmental impact”, I figured this is the perfect time to enter the fray.

The timing is also good because of the opening last week of a “one-stop shop recycling drop-off station” at 210 Second Street and Collins Court (the alley between Washington and Collins). The result of the persistence and sweat of the Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach (ECOMB), the recycling center accepts all single-stream recyclables (glass, plastic, metal, paper, cardboard, magazines, junk mail, phone books, etc.) as well as all types of electronic waste, batteries, and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

“This is a major step,” Luiz Rodrigues, ECOMB’s indefatigable executive director, told me over the phone today.

Rodrigues is a veteran and pioneer of the push to make Miami Beach a greener place. When he first moved here from California ten years ago, he says he was “horrified at how behind we were.” Since then he has been working to get Miami Beach caught up.

“South Beach never really had much of an environmental or sustainable consciousness,” Rodrigues told me. “It was always a place for tourists, partying, the beach — a summer destination. It was a very transient community.”

But in recent years Rodrigues says he has seen a change as more people have moved into Miami Beach with the intention of sticking around. Naturally, permanent residents are willing to invest more in their own communities, and so the status quo vis-à-vis recycling and environmentalism in general is evolving, particularly at the political level.

“We have a much larger group of residents who are here permanently who really care about the beach and the environment,” said Rodrigues. “And more politicians coming into City Hall are becoming aware of it.”

The recycling center — the result of a partnership of ECOMB, the city, and others — is proof of Miami Beach’s growing eco-consciousness. But Rodrigues knows it is not enough. Nor, he says, will an invasion of giant pink mollusks necessarily make Miami Beach a greener place.

“It’s an amazing project,” Rodrigues said, “but it will only have a great impact if it is restated over and over again that the snails are made of recycled materials, that you can actually use recycled materials to create art.”

The next step in Miami Beach’s slow crawl toward 21st century environmentalism is a new recycling ordinance, which Rodrigues says will be based on the strictest rules in Florida. As for the recycling center, it is currently housed in one room of the Miami Beach Center for the Environment, but Rodrigues says it will eventually be incorporated into a larger, multipurpose environmental center.

All of this depends in large part on Rodrigues’s ability to convince the city and Miami Beach’s growing resident population that they cannot stop now. With years of hard-fought activism behind him, he is confident he can do it.

“People know me for not giving up and being very persistent,” Rodrigues told me. “It’s been taking years and years trying to achieve some of our goals, but I feel we are finally achieving many of them. We need to have perseverance.”


Click HERE for more information on the recycling drop-off station, and see below for a map of the location.

View Miami Beach Recycling Drop-Off Station in a larger map

14 Comments on “Miami Beach Gets Its First One-Stop Recycling Center”

  1. 1 arielle said at 5:34 pm on November 23rd, 2010:

    Love this! And I would love to see more coverage in the future on how Miamians can be proactive about personal acts of environmentalism. When I was living there, I called two city departments– Waste and Environmental Resources– and asked if there was a system or any advice for someone who wanted to compost (as there is in many cities nationally). Several people, not just the first shmoe to answer the phone, asked me what compost was. An hour and a dozen explanations later, I was informed, simply, “no.”

    Can this person from ECOMB, or other local environmental activists, be interviewed again with more (easy) advice for eco-conscious Miamians?

  2. 2 Jordan Melnick said at 6:04 pm on November 23rd, 2010:

    splendid idea. I’m sure he could.

  3. 3 Daniel M. Perez said at 6:30 am on November 24th, 2010:

    This is great to know! We’ve been frustrated over the lack of recycling since we moved to SoBe a year ago. I’ll start making use of this center asap.

  4. 4 Paul Orofino said at 7:55 am on November 24th, 2010:

    Cigarette filters are littering our streets, parks and beaches. The state of Florida has recently required all cigarettes sold in Florida must be “FSC” (Fire Safety Cigarettes)

    Now we must pass a law that requires ALL cigarettes sold in our state to have Bio Degradable FILTERS! How can we get the ball rolling on such an ordinance?

  5. 5 Jordan Melnick said at 8:37 am on November 24th, 2010:

    Paul, good question. I did a quick search and found Green Butts, a company that makes a cigarette filter that evidently sprouts into a plant when buried under a thin layer of soil. Sounds too good to be true! A little sinister too. I can hear the slogans now: “Smoke cigarettes … Mother Earth will thank you.”

  6. 6 Paul Orofino said at 9:07 am on November 24th, 2010:


    Thanks for your post. There are many patents for bio degradable cigarette filters but the big tobacco companies are not being forced to use them. I will be starting a campaign here in the state of Florida to make it the LAW that ALL Filtered Cigarettes sold in the state of Florida MUST be made with bio degradable filters. Anyone who is with me please let me know and I will start the ball rolling. Thanks.

  7. 7 Jordan Melnick said at 9:41 am on November 24th, 2010:

    Thanks for announcing here, Paul, and please keep us posted on the progress of your campaign.

  8. 8 Lanette Sobel said at 11:20 am on November 24th, 2010:

    In response to Arielle’s comment, I know exactly what you’re talking about when it comes to composting. Our organization, the Fertile Earth Foundation, has been trying to get a commercial composting option for over 2 years now. (We had a short 3 month pilot project with the City of Miami earlier this year but ran out of funding). Luckily, composting is something individuals can do on their own, even if you live in an apartment. I do it with 2000 worms under my kitchen sink. We have composting classes at Fairchild and Miami Dade College; check out our website at if you want to learn more! (And I’m proud of you Luiz :)

  9. 9 Elaine said at 2:17 am on November 26th, 2010:

    Long over due!

  10. 10 Vicequeenmaria said at 9:08 am on November 29th, 2010:

    It’s about effin’ time, City of Miami Beach! We’ve been discussing this for donkey’s ages over at forums. Thanks for posting this Beached Miami — I’m going to link to this article.

    Keep rockin’ this blog!

  11. 11 Recycling on the Beach - Miami Beach 411 said at 9:09 am on November 29th, 2010:

    […] as all types of electronic waste, batteries, and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Read more: The First All-purpose Recycling Center on Miami Beach | Beached Miami Maria de los Angeles is a Miami native and freelance writer who loves to pen stories about […]

  12. 12 Jordan Melnick said at 9:15 am on November 29th, 2010:

    Nice. Thank you, your Highness.

  13. 13 vicequeenmaria said at 9:15 am on November 29th, 2010:

    Oh and one more thing: kudos to ECOMB!

  14. 14 Giant Pink Snails Leaving Miami Beach | Beached Miami said at 9:29 am on January 3rd, 2011:

    […] abuse during their 46-day stay, which was meant to spark “a community-wide conversation about the importance of recycling and its environmental impact.” Not sure if that happened. Anecdotally, most of my […]

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