If you have ever mourned the number of cigarette butts littering your local streets, take heart that they can actually be used as a resource to produce new products—and you can get involved.
Terracycle is a New Jersey-based firm that has been doing great things for over ten years, specializing in recycling the “unrecyclable”, including plastic packaging, diapers, and cigarette butts.
The company has partnered with businesses, cities, and consumers around the world to collect used filters so they can be ‘upcycled’ into something useful.
Instead of throwing the butts into a trash can, after which they end up in landfills, Terracycle distributes designated cigarette receptacles for smokers to trash the butts. Once the receptacles are full and returned to Terracycle, the filters—which are made of a tougher kind of plastic material called cellulose acetate—can then be melted down and used for things like park benches and shipping pallets.
The recycling process can get pretty expensive, but Terracycle receives funding from cigarette manufacturers to help cover the costs of the program so the service is free for cities and individual participants.
As an added incentive for people to engage in the project, Terracycle also donates $1 to the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention program for every pound of cigarette butts they receive.
Since the company launched the program in 2012, more than 90 million cigarette butts have been collected from over 12,000 locations around the world.
Want to get in on the program? Visit the Terracycle website to sign up for your own smoker’s receptacle.
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