Cigarette butt litter is being turned into public benches in Ocean City thanks to a partnership between the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the Worcester County Health Department, and the private sector.
Cigarette butts make up a significant portion of collected litter across the country. Ocean City and its beaches are no exception. With grant funding from the Worcester County Health Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling business TerraCycle is transforming cigarette butt litter into plastic benches. The cigarette litter is collected in receptacles placed throughout the town and thus far have been emptied and upcycled into useful public benches for the Boardwalk and Seacrets.
According to the Town of Ocean City:
“Littering cigarette butts and cigar tips is unsightly, costly to clean up and harmful to waterways and wildlife,” said Ocean City Councilman and Green Team chair Tony DeLuca. “Not only are cigarettes the most picked-up littered item on our beach in Ocean City, but 32% of litter at storm drains is tobacco products. Litter traveling through storm drains and water systems ends up in local streams, rivers, bays and the ocean. The Green Team’s cigarette litter prevention program, along with decades of coordinated beach clean-ups, aims to eliminate cigarette butt litter and these benches are a great result of our community’s efforts to keep our beaches clean.”
As a National Estuary Program, Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) is a non-profit partnership among the towns of Ocean City and Berlin, the National Park Service (NPS), Worcester County, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Planning.