OCEAN CITY – Despite staffing challenges, resort officials say they are ready to launch the second season of the town’s Litter Free OC campaign.
On Wednesday, members of the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee (Green Team) met to discuss cleanup, messaging and enforcement efforts for Ocean City’s 2022 anti-litter campaign.
After reporting some success in its first year, committee members and resort officials say they are committed to another strong season.
“Whatever we are doing, I think it’s working,” said committee member Gail Blazer. “I just don’t want us to sit on our laurels and say ‘OK, we’re done.’ I want to continue on and keep the effort going.”
In late 2020, 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.
To 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.
“The first year was really bad, and I think we got a lot of complaints,” Blazer told committee members. “I think last year they dropped down.”
Officials said last year’s campaign focused on promoting the Litter Free OC message through the town’s various social media platforms, billboards and promotional products.
Ocean City also relied on the Ocean City Police Department to ramp up its enforcement efforts. Capt. Elton Harmon said the department last year issued 23 more littering citations than the prior year.
“This year going into it, we’re basically using the same model as what we had last year,” he said. “We don’t see any change in deployment, except for some numbers because of hiring [issues].”
Ocean City Public Works Maintenance Manager Tom Dy said his department would also continue its anti-litter efforts by replacing broken residential trash cans, weeding the side streets and rotating staff. But he noted that public works was also facing staffing shortages.
“Typically for me it’s 101, 102 employees,” he said. “For this season, I’m hoping to get 75, 80, and that’s way short.”
Public Works Deputy Director Woody Vickers, however, told the committee public works would be out in full force for its annual spring cleanup, scheduled for March 26.
“We’ll have close to 100 people working that day,” he said.