(March 20, 2020) With two interns and funding for a summer intern position secured, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program is progressing toward its goal of making the Ocean City Green Team’s cigarette “butt hut” program self-sustaining.
Since its inception last year, the program has been a wild success, and as of this week the team has recycled almost 400,000 cigarette butts.
To keep the momentum going, the Green Team decided to expand its program with a butt hut on every street up to the Delaware state line.
However, the team faced one roadblock: maintenance.
During the last Green Team meeting, Public Works Director Hal Adkins said his department, tasked with emptying the cigarette butt collectors, had received several complaints last year about overflowing bins.
Adkins explained that his staff was routinely emptying the receptacles, but they could not keep up with how fast the bins were being filled.
In order to expand the program, an intern would be needed, he said.
Rather than the all-streets goal, the team decided to scale back and installed 20 more in high traffic areas, and two on private property.
These streets are 28th, 30th, 33rd, 37th, 41st, 45th, 48, 54th, 56th, 59th, 67th, 94th, 118th, 120th, 123rd, 130th, 133rd, 136th, 139th and 142nd.
Additionally, the team has come up with some interim solutions.
“We’re using the dune patrol and the Adopt Your Beach [volunteers] and we’re going to have people collecting them and recycling them. We have a bunch of dune patrol people that are willing to monitor them,” said Gail Blazer, Ocean City environmental engineer, during the March 11 meeting.
Sandi Smith, Maryland Coastal Bays Program marketing and development coordinator, said the organization had secured two spring interns with funding from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.
These two interns would work with the Worcester County Circuit Court Drug Court Division to develop a volunteer program, Smith told Ocean City Today.
Part of that program included creating an empty-my-bin hotline card that could be given to businesses that have installed their cigarette receptacles.
The organization also secured funding from the Environmental Protection Agency for a 10-week summer intern position.
Smith’s next goal is to obtain money to hire a year-round, part-time intern, which would eventually evolve into a part-time employment opportunity financed by the resort.
These efforts could help with the program’s private endeavor, which had a rough start, as roughly 45 percent of businesses did not install their receptacles.
Smith said during last Wednesday’s meeting that the issue had multiple factors, such as lack of communication between workers and bosses.
“It’s beyond just the logistics of hanging it up,” Smith said. “It was actually the whole lack of communication and effort.”
Additionally, Smith acknowledged that launching the program mid-summer had also affected the private endeavor, as businesses were too busy to worry about installing their bins.
The interns will take a more aggressive approach this year, and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program has added a contingency that requires businesses to pay for lost bins and return unused ones.
In the meantime, the recycled cigarette butts have been turned into public benches that will feature a message stating “Put your butts on these butts.”
Those interested in purchasing a bench may contact Sandi Smith at email@example.com , or by calling 410-213-2297 ext. 106.