Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. has teamed up with TerraCycle, a world leader in developing solutions for hard-to-recycle materials, to do something about cigarette butt litter.
According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB), 65% of all cigarette butts are disposed of improperly. But thanks to another environmental breakthrough by TerraCycle, cigarette litter can now be recycled. With funding from Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. (SFNTC), TerraCycle is launching a national program to collect and recycle cigarette waste. The Cigarette Waste Brigade will divert used cigarette butts from landfills. By sponsoring this program, SFNTC is not only taking responsibility for the end-life of its products, but also for the products of its competitors.
“You don’t have to walk or drive very far to see that smokers often discard cigarette waste in ways that litter the environment,” said Cressida Lozano, the head of sales and marketing for SFNTC. “Our company has been committed to environmental sustainability since we were founded 30 years ago, and we’re proud to be the exclusive sponsor of an innovative program to reduce and recycle cigarette butt litter, regardless of which manufacturer made the cigarettes.”
“The Cigarette Waste Brigade has the potential to transform public spaces across the country, drastically reducing the amount of litter that is discarded,” said TerraCycle CEO and Founder Tom Szaky. “Furthermore, the Cigarette Waste Brigade will provide a solution for the filters that are properly disposed of in an ashtray or can, but today still end up in a landfill.”
Cigarette filters (and other related tobacco waste) are the number one item recovered during the annual Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day, with over 52 million cigarette filters collected from beaches in the past 25 years. They’re a source of litter in a variety of public outdoor spaces, including sidewalks, roadways, parks, shopping malls and office buildings.
In 2009, a Keep America Beautiful study found that cigarette waste accounted for 38% of all U.S. roadway litter. Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable and do not break down quickly. The cigarette waste collection program will make this pervasive waste recyclable for the first time.
“This is one of the most exciting developments in TerraCycle’s history,” Szaky said. “As a company committed to recycling waste streams that others deem worthless or unsavoury, cigarette waste will help to promote our belief that everything can and should be recycled!”
How does it work?
It’s easy and free to participate in the Cigarette Waste Brigade. Interested individuals can visit www.terracycle.com to sign up for the Brigade. Filters can be collected normally in receptacles, such as ashtrays. Collectors then bag the waste in any plastic bag—which gets recycled as well—before being placed in a shipping box.
Once enough waste is collected, collectors log into their account and print a free prepaid UPS shipping label to return their box at no cost.
TerraCycle has already kept more than two billion pieces of food and beverage packaging and other waste from going to the landfill, and with its partners, dispersed more than $3.5 million to charity through its various Brigade programs. This newest Brigade program joins over 50 others currently available. TerraCycle is currently creating solutions for other difficult to recycle, but widely discarded, waste streams such as disposable diapers and used chewing gum.