Butts targeted

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY RICHARD MAHONEY News Staff

Cig­a­rettes are not only bad for the health of smok­ers, they are also a ma­jor source of pol­lu­tion.

Con­sid­ered to be Canada’s most com­mon form of lit­ter, cig­a­rette butts are non­biodegrad­able, con­tain plas­tics, are toxic to wildlife, and cause fires.

With that in mind, an Alexan­dria en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist is urg­ing busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions to ac­quire “Zero Waste Boxes” distribute­d by Ter­raCy­cle, a Toronto firm that re­cy­cles the “non-re­cy­clable.”

Al­though the num­ber of to­bacco users has de­creased over the years, there are count­less quan­ti­ties of dis­carded cig­a­rette butts lit­ter­ing pub­lic spa­ces, notes Deb­o­rah Wad­dell.

“A lot of people do not look at cig­a­rette butts as be­ing plas­tic,” she poi­intes out. In fact, the fil­ters are com­posed of cel­lu­lose ac­etate, a type of plas­tic that is also found in eye­glass frames, play­ing cards and film.

The zero waste con­tain­ers come with pre­paid UPS ship­ping la­bels. So no postage is paid when the boxes are full and are re­turned to Ter­raCy­cle, where the butts will be re­cy­cled.

“I see a lot of butts on side­walks and in streets, even though em­ploy­ers do pro­vide butt con­tain­ers for their em­ploy­ees,” says Ms. Wad­dell.

About 40 per cent of used butts get flicked into the en­vi­ron­ment, adds Ms. Wad­dell, who ini­ti­ated Glen­garry Earth Day ear­lier this year and has formed a lo­cal branch of Green Drinks, a group “open to any­one who wants to dis­cuss en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and so­lu­tions.”

Cig­a­rette butts are not viewed as be­ing a big prob­lem, “un­til we see im­ages of a bird try­ing to feed one to its baby,” notes Ms. Wad­dell, re­fer­rign to scene that went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia.

She is await­ing word from North Glen­garry Town­ship on her re­quest that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity par­tic­i­pate in the butt re­cy­cling project.

“Ter­raCy­cle can work with you, your city gov­ern­ment, in­di­vid­ual or­ga­ni­za­tions, events, and busi­nesses to set up pub­lic or pri­vate on-site re­cy­cling pro­grams for waste streams of your choice,” the com­pany says. “Al­though cig­a­rette waste is the most com­mon waste stream cities are re­cy­cling with us, we also of­fer a va­ri­ety of other pro­grams that we can work with you to re­cy­cle.”

Ter­raCy­cle says, “Whether it's cof­fee cap­sules from your home, pens from a school, or plas­tic gloves from a man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity,” it can col­lect and re­cy­cle al­most any form of waste.

Any ban on sin­gle-use plas­tics must in­clude butts, ar­gues Physi­cians for a SmokeFree Canada.

The group con­tends that pub­lic ash­trays have not only been proven in­ef­fec­tive, but also send the wrong pub­lic health mes­sage since they “re-nor­mal­ize” smok­ing.

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