Ocean City’s Anti-Litter Campaign Resulted In Less Trash Complaints

OCEAN CITY – Officials say they will review messaging and cleanup initiatives associated with Ocean City’s anti-litter campaign.

Last week, members of the Ocean City Coastal Resources Legislative Committee (Green Team) discussed cleanup programs and messaging for Ocean City’s anti-litter campaign, Litter Free OC. While officials reported some success in its first year, committee members are now focusing on ways to improve the campaign ahead of next season.

“I feel like I have mixed emotions on how much success we’ve had,” said committee member Gail Blazer, the town’s environmental engineer.

Late last year, the Green Team began discussing ways to address a growing litter problem in Ocean City after a particularly troublesome summer season. Despite the efforts of the town’s public works department and various volunteer cleanup groups, officials noted the town continued to experience larger-than-average trash volume, largely attributed to an increase in carryout during the pandemic.

The that end, the committee joined with town departments, environmental organizations, businesses and local schools to launch Litter Free OC, a multi-faceted initiative aimed at education and enforcement using advertisements, social media posts and cleanup initiatives, to name a few.

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In an update earlier this month, committee liaison and Council Secretary Tony DeLuca said he had seen improvements since the campaign launched earlier this year.

“I’ve got to tell you this year really made a difference,” he said. “The reason I know it made a difference was because last year the government website was blown up with litter complaints. It was really bad. This year, it was one or two emails.”

DeLuca also acknowledged Public Works Director Hal Adkins and his department for replacing residential trash cans, increasing the size of cigarette butt huts along the Boardwalk and hiring additional staff, among other things.

“There are a lot of programs he did that I think really, really helped …,” he said.

Blazer added that the Ocean City Police Department also issued more litter citations in conjunction with the Litter Free OC campaign.

“We really want the police department to be part of the solution,” she said.

Looking ahead to next season, however, committee members said some improvements could be made for next year.

“This is not a one and done,” Blazer said. “It’s something we want to be doing every year.”

Committee member Pat McLaughlin said he wanted to see a stronger campaign message.

“The more impressions you make, the more you change a habit,” he said.

DeLuca said it was an idea the town’s new advertising agency could explore.

“Once we pick a new ad agency, we go to them and give us ideas and costs,” he said. “How can they help us with the message?”

Blazer also noted some cleanup initiatives never took off this summer. She said those programs could also be revaluated.

“We’ll follow up more at the January meeting,” she said.

DeLuca agreed, noting the campaign needed more time.

“You just have to keep pressing it,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.