Recycling cigarette butts

by | June 11, 2018

One of the problems facing recycling is that many things that get thrown away are made from more than one thing. Cigarette butts are case in point.  They are comprised of tobacco and plastic filters, both of which can be recycled separately. However, separating the plastic from the tobacco and processing the two materials can be a challenge, at least financially. Thus, cigarette smoking is not only bad for one’s health but harms the environment, as well.

According to the Good News Network, a company called TerraCycle, based in New Jersey, is having a go at recycling cigarette butts. The company offers its own recycling bins in which smokers can deposit used butts instead of in the trash or flicking them away on the street,

When the bins are filled, TerraCycle will empty them and convey them to its plant. The plastic is melted off and used to make things like shipping pallets and park benches. The tobacco is mixed in with other materials to make compost.

The process is pretty costly; however, TerraCycle gets funding from the cigarette companies, always eager to burnish their corporate responsibility image, so the service is free for local governments and businesses participating in the program. Indeed, the company sweetens the deal by kicking in a dollar to the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention program for every pound of cigarette waste it picks up.

The service provided by TerraCycle offers companies an interesting quandary. Most private businesses offer smoking cessation programs on the theory that the more employees who quit using tobacco products, the more who are likely to be healthy and productive. On the other hand, some people will persist in smoking, and therefore the deployment of TerraCycle’s bins in designated smoking areas will at least address the other problem presented by cigarettes, the filling of landfills with waste.

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