According to a report from CNN New York State produces 1.5 million tons of cigarette butts every year. Project those numbers nationwide and you start to get a picture of the enormity of the cigarette waste problem.
But, not only are those butts unsightly, they’re environmentally unfriendly. Even after they break down, a process that takes anywhere from 10 to 15 years, they never truly biodegrade. Instead they turn into a fine plastic powder that can remain in the eco system for many years to come.
The result: Another ecological time bomb that we really can’t afford.
The answer: Recycling
In New York State, Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, a legislator representing Jackson Heights and other areas of Queens, NY, and an environmental leader, has crafted a bill that will do just that.
DenDekker’s bill, A11121, aims to set up a program to collect and recycle cigarette butts.
The bill proposes to set up collection facilities around the state for the redemption of cigarette waste. It will also establish a deposit and refund value for individual butts brought to a facility.
The program would operate much like the way cans and bottles are currently collected and redeemed. And looking at the success of that program it’s likely that the cigarette waste program would be just as successful.
Currently there are a number of options proposed for recycling and reusing cigarette waste. They range from using recycled cigarette waste for home insulation to clothing made from cigarette filters. Once those solutions are in place the collected cigarette waste would be sold to those recycling companies providing much needed revenue to the state.