Ocean City Green Team to Launch Source Reduction Program at HMRA Trade Show
Our environment is our greatest asset in Ocean City and protecting our ocean, beach and bay is critical in preserving its beauty. With an estimated 12 million metric tons of plastic pollution flooding into our oceans each year, it’s imperative that we end the flow of plastic on land and sea. Recycling alone is simply never going to solve this problem, which is why the Ocean City Green Team is taking on plastic pollution at its source.
The work to end plastic pollution was kicked off in 2018 by the Surfrider Foundation’s -Ocean City Chapter “Strawless Summer” initiative. This overwhelmingly successful campaign focused on reducing plastic straw consumption by pledging to not use plastic straws. To date, 70 restaurants and 500 individuals have signed the pledge.
In 2019, the Ocean City Green Team is taking source reduction one step further with the “Protect Our Sand and Sea” campaign. This elective and eco-friendly program promotes greener choices for business owners and consumers. While the program is not regulated by law, Ocean City businesses can voluntarily commit to use fewer plastic products and be recognized by the Green Team based on their level of source reduction.
Green team members will be at this year’s trade show to introduce and promote the new campaign as well as another campaign geared at reducing and recycling cigarette butts.
Ocean City Green Team partners, Maryland Coastal Bays and Ocean City Surf Club, sponsor popular Adopt your Beach and Adopt your Street programs. To participate in these successful programs, citizen volunteers commit to picking up trash several times a year, also pledging to tally the results. The data collected has continuously shown the number one item to be picked up is cigarette butts.
The Mayor & City Council took the first step to reduce cigarette butt litter in 2015 by making the Boardwalk smoke-free and creating designated smoking areas on the beach. Now, to further this progress, Ocean City Green Team members have found a collaborative way to add additional designated smoking receptacles on each block west of the Boardwalk and will begin recycles used cigarette butts.
The Town of Ocean City and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) were awarded Worcester County Health Department grant funding for pilot programs to reduce second hand smoking exposure and improperly discarded cigarette butts. The town is using this funding to provide more receptacles that encourage these practices.
MCBP is using this funding to provide area businesses with free butt receptacles if they commit to promoting smoking only near these receptacles, which makes it easy to dispose of the butts in the receptacles. Businesses must also agree to either ship the butts to TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company, or drop the butts off to a designated area at TOC Public Works, which houses butts collected from town receptacles. These cigarette butts will also be shipped to TerraCycle to be recycled with the help of volunteers.
MCBP was also awarded additional grant funding for receptacles from Walmart. For more information, contact MCBP at [email protected] or 410-213-2297 ext 106 or visit our page at https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/departments/engineering/environment/source-reduction-pledge/