- Ocean City, MD has approved plans for a new heavy-duty truck that will be retrofitted with a compactor on the back to more efficiently handle the piles of beach trash, as reported by the Maryland Coast Dispatch.
- Collection crews currently use three trucks that empty barrels into dumpsters mounted on the back of trucks. As these 21 dumpsters fill up crews drop them throughout the town to be picked up in the morning, which creates double the amount of noise for local residents.
- The new $298,000 compactor truck will allow crews to collect waste from at least three-quarters of the island before filling up, with the exceptions of holidays and special events.
With nearly 10 miles of beachfront and hundreds of thousands of tourists each summer season, keeping up with waste in Ocean City is not easy. The town plans to keep its current fleet on standby until the new truck makes it through the summer successfully, but officials says that if it is successful they may request funds for another truck in the future. In addition to increasing efficiency and reducing noise this will also allow them to collect larger barrels, which fill up fast during tourist season.
Keeping up with high volumes of waste on beaches or in parks can be tough, especially for smaller municipalities. Investments of this size may be small compared to the costs of operating large fleets but they can make a big difference in reducing litter. Based on the results in Ocean City, other beach towns could end up following their lead.
Research continues to show that beach litter is an environmentally harmful issue with no simple solution. Work is being done to scan waste more quickly for characterization studies, but much of it is still ending up in oceans or other bodies of water. Finding a way to make more beach-goers clean up after themselves would help solve this, but in the meantime investing in new collection methods is easier than trying to crack the psychology behind littering.