(June 28, 2019) After finalizing placement parameters, Ocean City has more than doubled the number of cigarette “butt huts” being installed on street ends west of the Boardwalk in an effort to recycle one of the most common forms of litter on the planet.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins said since the city was awarded a $2,000 grant from the Worcester County Health Department last November, the city has worked with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program to see discarded butts land in a better place that does not involve littering the roadways or floating out into area waters.
Adkins said his department had constructed 40 cigarette butt huts, which are similar to those located along the beach, but has ramped up production following a review of possible locations.
“Now that the [City] Council has made a decision on how they want to handle smoking west of the Boardwalk, and east of the Boardwalk at the inlet lot, I am producing a total of 90,” he said.
Adkins said the city plans to install butt huts on both north and south side sidewalks on street ends along the length of the Boardwalk.
“There will be one on the south side sidewalk and one on the north side … in an effort to intercept [people] as they are walking to the Boardwalk to let them know smoking is prohibited beyond that point,” he said.
Adkins was quick to specify the newly installed butt huts were not intended to encourage tobacco use or vaping.
“It does not state that it is a designated smoking area,” he said. “It is more of a repository to [provide] a place to snuff … out … butts in lieu of throwing them on the ground.”
Signs placed on street ends west of the Boardwalk will include east-facing messages on the flip side of the sign to alert people exiting the seaside promenade that smoking and vaping are permitted beyond that point.
“We’re also going to be installing signs as you leave the inlet lot walking west … onto the Boardwalk,” he said.
Adkins also said the new parking lot configuration channels Boardwalk-bound foot traffic to specific entrance points, where additional butt huts will be deployed.
“There will be butt huts there with signage in both Spanish and English,” he said.
Adkins said Public Works would be responsible for emptying the butt huts this summer, which it already does with beach-based collection sites and will package the discarded materials to be shipped to TerraCycle for eventual recycling.
TerraCycle, based in Trenton, New Jersey, launched a program in 2012 to recycle cigarette filters, which are produced from cellulose acetate, for use in making plastic shipping pallets and as fiber product to make planks for benches.
Adkins previously reported data collected by Maintenance Manager Tom Dy last summer showed that the city collected roughly 325,000 cigarette butts, or enough to fill more than half-a-dozen 30-gallon trash cans. That’s more than 7.5 miles of cigarette butts, or three-quarters of so of the resort’s total length, assuming that the average butt is in the neighborhood of 1.5 inches long.
Speaking on Tuesday, Adkins said all required signage has been produced, with a two-man crew now beginning to place butt huts on street ends.
“We commenced installation of the entire program as of this morning,” he said. “We will be focusing on installation the rest of this week and into the first part of next week.”