TerraCycle Teams Up to Recycle Cigarette Butts

So, is it any surprise that cigarette butts would also cause a lot of mayhem? As a matter of fact, according to CigaretteLitter.org, it is estimated that well over several trillion cigarette butts are littered around the world on an annual basis. It is so much of a problem that reportedly, cigarette butts are actually the most littered item in the United States.

When you think about the things that can do harm to our physical health, cigarettes would have to be on the top of the list. According to the Center for Disease Control, the adverse effects of smoking counts for nearly one in five deaths, is the cause of 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent cause of lung cancer deaths in women and for smokers, it also significantly increases the chances of being diagnosed with heart disease and stroke as opposed to those who do not smoke.

Aside from the fact that it is a remnant of a habit that is so potentially destructive to human beings, being that cigarettes are made of cellulose acetate tow (a substance that is not biodegradable), it can take several decades for butts to actually degrade; therefore, making them just that much more of a threat to the environment.

So, with cigarette butts making up approximately 38 percent of the trash that is found on America’s roadways, it is great news that TerraCycle has made the commitment to do its part to recycle some of the cigarettes that are littering our communities.

If you are not familiar with TerraCycle, it is a company that focuses on creating systems that will upcycle items that are considered to be hard to recycle (such as cigarette butts). With the hopes of being able to keep cigarette butts off of the sides of highways and out of landfills, TerraCycle has recently partnered up with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. in the hopes of being able to create some viable alternatives for cigarette waste.

The current vision is that the tobacco company will sponsor what is known as the Cigarette Waste Brigade, a program started by TerraCycle that encourages people and organizations to actually collect the cigarette waste in their homes, neighborhoods and communities; except, rather than simply disposing of it, they can notify
TerraCycle, receive a prepaid shipping label and then mail the waste to the organization. With that cigarette waste, TerraCycle will assist in turning it into things like shipping pallets and ash trays, plastic lumber and railroad ties.

TerraCycle is excited about this effort because being able to recycle cigarette butts is something that they have wanted to do for some time now. They believe that this plan will make a large impact on cleaning up the earth and with the early media support that they are getting, it would appear that many would agree.

So, whether you’re an avid non-smoker, you’re someone who smokes on a daily basis or you’re more of a casual smoker who does things like purchase expensive cigars and cigarettes at online smoke shops, the next time that you see a cigarette butt in your yard or you are tempted to leave one behind on the ground, contact TerraCycle instead. Cigarettes are a bad habit for our health and for our lands. We’ve got to do our part to cut it out and pick it up.

About the Author

Leon Harris is a freelance writer based in Camarillo, California. A lover of both words and coffee, he can regularly be found either reading or writing at his local coffee shop. If not at the coffee shop, he is usually at UC Santa Barbara, where he attends college part-time.
  • harleyrider1978

    Another Anti-Smoking Hoax Debunked. Those cigarette filters are 100% biodegradable.

    The cigarette butt menace was created to support outdoor smoking bans because many non-smokers will accept that secondhand smoke is not harmful in an outdoor setting.

    The anti-smoking zealots admit that the tobacco and paper in cigarette butts are biodegradable, but claim that the cellulose acetate cigarette filters are a plastic, like styrofoam and polystyrene, and will contaminate the earth forever. This is not true. Cellulose acetate is a wood product. It is completely degradable through biological, chemical, and photo chemical degradation mechanisms.

    Sorry, I don’t have a nice, easy to read MSM news article to give you. I have research papers from cellulose acetate manufacturers. Ann W., a commentor to a Dick Puddlecote article, put me onto this. http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.com/2011 … found.html

    http://www.acetateweb.com/pdf/Environme … ilters.pdf
    “STUDY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION OF CIGARETTE FILTERS: A simulation of the Roadside or Parking Lot Environment.” Stephen K. Haynes, et al,., Research Laboratories, Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport Tenn.

    “In recent years there has been increasing public awareness of items which may be discarded as litter with particular attention being given to cigarette filters. Some studies have concluded that when cigarette filters are introduced into the environment, they either do not degrade or degrade very slowly. Previous work in our laboratories has demonstrated that cigarette filters biodegrade readily in environments where mixed microbial populations can thrive. The purpose of this study was to examine the changes occurring in cigarette filters over time in an environment similar to that of a parking lot or roadside area. In this environment, exposure to sunlight, moisture and wind occur, but there is limited exposure to microbial attack … ”

    “CONCLUSIONS: Previous work has demonstrated that cigarette filters biodegrade readily in environments where mixed microbial populations can thrive. This work demonstrates that current commercial cigarette filters also degrade when exposed to an environment which is not optimal for microbial biodegradation.”