An Ontario company wants smokers to stop throwing out their stubbed-out cigarette butts, and instead send them in for recycling so they can be turned into useful products.
Toronto-based Terracycle turns cigarette waste into fertilizer, composting material and even industrial plastic.
Company spokesperson Jay Reyes told CTV News Channel that, contrary to public belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable.
“There’s actually cellulose acetate in cigarette butts, which is actually plastic polymer and not natural at all,” he said.
The toxins contained in discarded cigarettes butts pose an environmental concern. Cigarette butts are the number one form of litter routinely rounded up on Canada’s coast lines, he said.
But smokers can keep the butts out of landfills by collecting them and sending them in for processing and subsequent recycling.
The butts sent to Terracycle are treated with gamma rays to have the toxins removed, he said.
Then the different parts of the waste are turned into usable products.
“We take the tobacco out for composting. The ash is actually used in fertilizers and the cigarette butts themselves are turned into plastic pellets, which are recycled,” Reyes said.
The plastic taken from the butts is used for industrial purposes, such as plastic skids which can replace wood skids.
Reyes said the products recycled from the butts are toxin-free.
“It is 100 per cent safe and we go through umpteen, countless third-party testing and they have proved there are zero toxins and no bio hazardous material connected with the cigarette waste,” he said.
The company has even found a way to motivate smokers to collect their butts and ship them in.
For every pound of cigarette waste sent in, Terracycle will pay $0.01 to a charity of the sender’s choice.
“It gives them an incentive to recycle their cigarette butts,” Reyes said.