Gross-out green week - Day four: Cigarette butt recycling - Our Daily Green

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gross-out green week - Day four: Cigarette butt recycling

cigarette butt recycling
photo by: Chris Sanderson/wikipedia
One of the most pervasive types of litter is cigarette butts. And contrary to popular belief, they are not biodegradable. Most cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a synthetic plastic-like substance used commonly for photographic film. Thousands of cigarette butts litter our roadsides, sidewalks, parking lots, and beaches. In fact, according to Ocean Conservancy.org, they are the number one litter item found.

A couple of companies are working on solutions that range from recycling the butts into plastic (TerraCycle now has a fundraising brigade for butts), which uses the butts to manufacture coatings and adhesives.

Another company, Greenbutts, has created a cigarette butt not of plastic, but biodegradable blend of all-natural flax, hemp and cotton. The butts also contain non-invasive wildflower seeds in the filter wrapper to aid in the breakdown of the filter body when discarded.

In San Diego,Curtis Baffico, a stock trader who moonlights as an environmentalist, decided to create a recycling system for them.  He raises money on his website, Ripplelife.org, then pays $3/pound for whatever cigarette ends people collect and turn in at monthly collection events.

While Our Daily Green thinks smoking is truly a gross habit, and cigarette butts even more gross, it's exciting to see the ways that something so gross can be turned into something so green.
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