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City of Vancouver launches cigarette butt recycling program

By

November 14, 2013

Vancouver's cigarette butts are being used to manufacture shipping pallets, among other th...

Vancouver's cigarette butts are being used to manufacture shipping pallets, among other things (Photo: Shutterstock)

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.

Sources: City of Vancouver, TerraCycle via The Canadian Press

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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13 Comments

My biggest problem with smokers is the way they litter.

Slowburn
14th November, 2013 @ 12:17 pm PST

As a further incentive one gets 2 centimos back for each butt delivered to stations serviced by unemployed youth on a retread program that has quitting smoking as its first step. The 40 cents a pack increase funds the recycling stations. An option is that the butts aren't counted but weighed after a brief humidity test to prevent enterprising smokers from adding value via a process known as spiffing.

Bembo Davies
15th November, 2013 @ 02:53 am PST

Ban tobacco altogether! Classify it as the narcotic it really is. Tobacco users load our fantastic health care system with "self inflicted" illnesses. Franny has to wait for a hip replacement while some smoker gets a new lung? I call bullshit!

Bruce Miller
15th November, 2013 @ 06:49 am PST

Ban tobacco? What if people started smoking marijuana instead of tobacco? That's legal in some states now.

Will a tobacco ban work better than prohibition in the 1930's? If I go overseas and bring back cigarettes, will they be confiscated at the border? Will I be arrested?

Are you going to eliminate the thousands of jobs for people who grow, process, ship, and distribute tobacco products?

Even Obama smokes, so you're not going to get him to signup. Now if you convinced Michelle that it's fattening, you might get her and Michael Bloomberg to team up and ban it.

Does the ban include chewing tobacco as well?

Don't get me wrong. I've never smoked and don't like the smell of cigarettes, but I just don't see this happening.

AllenH
15th November, 2013 @ 11:05 am PST

I'll give Vancouver credit for trying to address the problem, but I have to wonder how many cigarette butts it takes to make a pallet, and how many pallets could be produced with a year's supply of butts from a city like Vancouver.

AllenH
15th November, 2013 @ 11:07 am PST

Better would be to only sell cigarettes with quickly biodegradable filters at the same price as other cigarettes -- so that there is no reason to import black from the U.S. etc.

Todd Edelman
15th November, 2013 @ 02:48 pm PST

In what way we can call it the Greenest City by 2020, while there are still cigarette smoke on the air.

Norlito N. Morales
15th November, 2013 @ 04:05 pm PST

Smokers will "save up their butts and send them in" for recycling? Right. What's next, crack addicts sending in their pipes?

Jay Wilson
15th November, 2013 @ 07:36 pm PST

Really good idea, something good coming from something bad, always a plus. I hope that more large cities adopt the idea

JSSFB
15th November, 2013 @ 10:19 pm PST

>Bruce! Banning is the cause of the Mafia. Right now the government taxes on tobacco are mimicking the Mafia in places like Canada and Australia.

A pallet of cigarette butts is worth it's weight in gold if the nicotine is extracted and sold as patches, sprays, or volatiles..

Threesixty
16th November, 2013 @ 02:25 am PST

How hard is it to become a Canadian? (Love bacon) :-)

Paul Adams
17th November, 2013 @ 03:52 am PST

@ AllenH

1st it's medical marijuana, for glaucoma and weight gain, next I can see medical crack used for weight loss, that Canadian guy Ford is using it, but with little success. as seen in his pictures as it looks like he's fix'n to give birth ;-(

Jay Finke
19th November, 2013 @ 09:47 am PST

Finally, a way to recycle cigarette butts. These butts can be annoying to non-smokers. Seeing them thrown in the streets is really an eyesore to the city.

David - Vancouver Vending Company owner
8th December, 2013 @ 10:56 pm PST
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