Add Cigarette Butts to the Amazingly Long List of Items That Can Be Recycled
Discarded cigarette butts may seem disgusting, but they’re actually worth cash — they’re now being recycled into things like plastic pallets, guitar picks and even jewelry.
Since the filters are made with a plastic that isn’t biodegradable, many cities have launched clean-up efforts to keep them off the streets. And in a win-win scenario, some companies are gathering them up to give them a far less toxic afterlife.
One newly-launched enterprise, Cigarette Butt Litter Dream Recycling, collects the butts from hundreds of ashtrays it’s placed outside bars and restaurants in New York City, New Jersey and Chicago and turns the trash into jewelry, vases and guitar picks.
Another company, TerraCycle, will soon hand out free UPS shipping labels — paid for by an anonymous tobacco company — so you can actually mail in butts, which will be turned into industrial plastic pallets.
Since cigarette butts are the nation’s top litter problem, the efforts are being warmly received. TerraCycle’s Albe Zakes says advances in recycling mean that as long as an affordable way is found to collect and ship waste, “Everything’s recyclable.”