OSU Studies if Cleaner Beaches Would Help Americans

Cleaning up beaches could boost local economies in addition to preserving natural treasures and animal habitats.

In southern California’s Orange County alone, the economic benefits of beach cleanup could range from $13 per resident in a three-month period if debris were reduced by 25 percent to $42 per resident with a 75 percent drop in plastics and other trash along the oceanfront, according to a new study. That could mean up to a $46 million boost to the county’s economy in just one summer.

This is the first study to compare the amount of ocean debris with the behavior of beachgoers and to calculate an economic benefit to cleaning up those beaches, said Tim Haab, a professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at The Ohio State University.

To come up with an estimated benefit, Haab and his co-authors embarked on a two-part study, which appears online in the journal Marine Resource Economics. The work was done in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine debris program.