Recycle 'em if you got 'em

Recycle 'em if you got 'em

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

They account for 38 percent of all roadside litter by count, according to one study, and they're the most commonly picked up item during an annual coastal cleanup. Cigarette butts are truly nasty piece of trash, but a new program from TerraCycle seeks to collect and recycle this ubiquitous garbage.

With funding from Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. (makers of American Spirit-brand cigarettes), New Jersey-based TerraCycle, a company that finds ways to recycle difficult-to-recycle materials, has a found a way to keep cigarette butts from landfills.

Under the Cigarette Waste Brigade, people can sign up to collect all parts of extinguished cigarettes, including filters, partial cigarettes, outer plastic packaging, inner foil packing, rolling paper, loose tobacco pouches and ash. Brigadiers put the cigarette refuse into a plastic bag, put it in a shipping package, log onto TerraCycle's website to print out free shipping labels and then send the butts off to be recycled.  Individuals, nonprofit groups, as well as restaurants and other businesses can sign up for the program.

As with other TerraCycle brigades, participants can send their refuse in to TerraCycle, and the company will direct money to a school or charity of the participants' choosing. However, with the Cigarette Waste Brigade, TerraCycle will send a dollar to Keep America Beautiful for every pound of cigarette refuse received. TerraCycle adopted this arrangement out of concerns that participants would be incentivized to smoke to support a school or charity under its usual terms. TerraCycle estimates that a pound is equivalent to a thousand cigarette butts.

The collected waste will be recycled into a variety of industrial products, such as plastic pallets, and any remaining tobacco will be re-worked into tobacco composting.

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