Visitors in Ocean City will notice something unique about four brand new benches in the resort community. The benches, three of which are located on the Boardwalk and the other at Seacrets, are made from recycled cigarette butts. The benches are the result of the Ocean City Green Team’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) which was created last year. The program encourages businesses, visitors, and residents to dispose of their cigarette butts and cigar tips properly, while aiming to reduce secondhand smoke.

“Littering cigarette butts and cigar tips is unsightly, costly to clean up, and harmful to waterways and wildlife,” commented Green Team chairman and Ocean City Councilmember Tony Deluca. “Not only are cigarettes the most picked up littered item on our beach in Ocean City but 32 percent 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, aim to eliminate cigarette litter and these benches are a great result of our community’s efforts to keep our beaches clean.”

According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB), the nation’s largest organization aimed at eliminating cigarette litter and a co-funder of CLPP, cigarette butts remain the most littered item in the U.S. and across the globe. In addition to their contributions to the program, grant funding for the CLPP was provided by Worcester County Health Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 2019, CLPP began a campaign where “butt huts” were made available to businesses willing to take a pledge of participation and assist with collecting cigarette waste throughout Ocean City. The huts were installed in highly trafficked areas that routinely saw concentrated cigarette waste. When full the huts were emptied by volunteers and interns and sent to international recycling leader TerraCycle, who recycled the cigarette butts and used the resulting plastic to manufacture the new benches.

“At TerraCycle, our mission has always been to eliminate waste, recycle the unrecyclable and use our innovative business solutions to minimize human impact on the planet,” said TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. “It’s through partnerships like the one we enjoy with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program that allow us to fulfill our objective and help preserve the environment for future generations.”

Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) is working with the Town of Ocean City to create a sustainable butt hut and recycling program to keep cigarette litter out of our waterways. KAB has awarded an additional $20,000 grant in funding that will assist with this as well as add additional messaging campaigns to both residents and visitor alike.

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Image: Town of Ocean City, MD