What can you say about cigarette butts? They instantly make wherever they are look seedy, they don't biodegrade, plus they're highly toxic to aquatic organisms. It turns out, however, that they are good for something. The City of Vancouver and TerraCycle Canada launched a first-of-its-kind pilot program this Tuesday, in which the butts will be collected for recycling.
As part of the Cigarette Waste Brigade program, 110 cigarette recycling receptacles have been installed on several blocks in downtown Vancouver. The idea is that besides keeping the butts out of landfills, they also won't be littering the streets. People are additionally being encouraged to save up butts in their home or workplace, then send them in for processing.
And no, they're not being recycled into new cigarette butts. Instead, the cellulose acetate in their filters is being used in the production of industrial products such as shipping pallets. Additionally, tobacco extracted from them will be composted.
Incidentally, in a study conducted at China’s Xi’an Jiaotong University, it was found that discarded cigarette butts could also be used for rust-proofing steel.
The Cigarette Waste Brigade program is part of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, in which Vancouver is aiming to become the greenest city in the world by the year 2020. That plan has also included construction of the LEED-certified Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center, the introduction of a car-sharing program, and the use of recycled plastic in road asphalt.