The New Orleans pilot program is an extension of TerraCycle's Cigarette Waste Brigade - a nationwide, mail-in recycling program that is sponsored by Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company. New Orleans is the first city in the United States to implement a city-wide collection system, which launched today with the installation of 50 new cigarette-recycling receptacles on several blocks in Downtown. The receptacles will be easily identified with stickers that say "Cigarette Butts Recycling."
Cigarette butts are the world's most pervasive form of litter. Keep America Beautiful estimates that 38% of all roadside litter in the U.S. is tobacco-related waste. An estimated 195 million pounds of cigarette butts are improperly discarded in the United States annually. Globally, an estimated 3.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered every year.
"We've heard loud and clear that people want easy and convenient ways to keep our streets and public spaces clean," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "This innovative recycling pilot project is a great example of how we are forming new partnerships to reduce waste, provide job opportunities, and keep New Orleans beautiful."
The New Orleans pilot program will be an extension of the Cigarette Waste Brigade, meaning the program will have no cost to the city. Cigarette Butts collected through the nationwide program and now in New Orleans are recycled into a variety of industrial products, such as plastic pallets. Any remaining tobacco will be repurposed via tobacco-specific composting methods. The entire program is free to consumers.
"The DDD is committed to keeping Downtown New Orleans one of the cleanest areas in the city and continuously looking for ways to improve the quality of life for our Downtown stakeholders," said DDD President & CEO Kurt Weigle. "Addressing the cigarette butt litter problem is key to that effort. In a single day our Clean Team collected 6,781 cigarettes butts on the sidewalks of Downtown. This is why a few years ago we launched our Walk Your Butt to the Can campaign, as a prevention program designed to raise awareness to this problem; so, we are thrilled to build on that effort by partnering with the city and TerraCycle in this unique pilot program. We are especially pleased that the recycling fits in with our mission to promote a green Downtown."
TerraCycle will supply the receptacles, and through the Cigarette Waste Brigade, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company will cover the program costs related to installation, emptying receptacles, maintenance, and collection. The Downtown District Development (DDD) Clean Team will service the receptacles and return the waste to be recycled. As a reward, for every pound of cigarette waste collected, $4 will be donated to the DDD. These donations will help provide green jobs throughout the city.
"Cigarette waste is the most littered item across the globe," says Tom Szaky, Founder and CEO of TerraCycle. "We are thrilled that the City of New Orleans has joined us to become the first city in the United States to implement an integrated cigarette waste disposal and recycling program, and we are grateful for their commitment to help us eliminate this type of waste."
Regular evaluation will be conducted throughout the pilot program. After a few months, project partners will determine whether to keep the receptacles in their piloted locations permanently and explore expanding the network of receptacles to additional areas of the city.
The New Orleans pilot program will also serve as a model for potential future TerraCycle receptacle placements in other municipalities and cities across the country.
Contrary to popular belief, cigarette filters are not biodegradable. They're made from cellulose acetate, which is produced from wood fiber, and take many years to break down in the environment.
Founded in 2001, TerraCycle is the worldwide leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, from used chip bags to cigarette butts. The waste is collected via various methods from free, national, brand funded platforms (called "Brigades"), to various consumer and government-funded models. The collected waste is then reused, upcycled and/or recycled into many different products and materials. TerraCycle, on a yearly basis, across 25 countries, collects and repurposes billions of pieces of waste, creating millions of dollars of donations in the process. TerraCycle is the subject of a new half-hour comedy, ‘Human Resources,' to air starting August 8 on Pivot TV. To learn more about TerraCycle, please visit www.terracycle.com.