THE City of Benidorm collected a whopping 544,500 kilograms of waste from its beaches in 2023, according to a press statement released January 11.
The numbers highlight the toll of the Valencian city’s booming tourism industry, with 82,580 kilograms of trash recovered in August alone.
Even in February, typically the quietest month for tourism, cleanup crews collected 9,060 kilograms of garbage.
The quantity of trash collected closely follows the rise and fall of the tourist season, with numbers rising through the winter and spring before peaking in summer, then falling again in autumn.
Long popular with foreign tourists, particularly from the United Kingdom, Benidorm is among the few Spanish coastal cities that keeps its beach services running all year long.
According to Benidorm Councilor for Beaches Monica Gomez, the fact that such figures were recorded in the winter months is evidence of the intense pressure tourism places on Benidorm’s beaches.
“The balance shows that in the months of lower occupancy, such as January or February, the volume of waste generated is also very high, and we continue cleaning day and night with the same intensity,” she wrote in the statement.
Due to the sustained tourism, the city employs cleaning crews, as well as lifeguards and rescue services, all year long.
During the summer tourist rush, 28 workers are charged with keeping the beaches clean, while in the winter this number drops to 13.
Cleaning crews include drivers, mechanics and foremen, who utilise machinery between 10:30 pm and 4:50am and pick up trash manually between 7am and 1:30pm.
In addition to the garbage collected on land, cleanup crews picked up 110 kilograms of debris floating in the ocean during the summer of 2023.
The city uses what’s called a “pelican boat” — a small vessel with a set of front pinchers that open to collect trash, jellyfish, seaweed and other flotsam, before depositing the debris in a basket under the hull.
Benidorm counts less than 70,000 permanent inhabitants, but usually houses around 220,000 on any given night over the course of the year.
This number can swell to up to 400,000 during peak tourist season, or nearly six times the registered population.
According to Benidorm mayor Antonio Perez, the city had a total of 16 million regulated overnight stays in 2023 — the third highest in Spain, behind only Madrid and Barcelona.