Give Your Butts a New Life

Written By: Danielle Pillon

Think about all of the components in a package of cigarettes – you’ve got the plastic wrapping, the cardboard box, the tin foil lining, all before you even get to the actual cigarettes! Many people throw away all of these pieces, or worse, leave them on the ground or toss them out a window, creating harmful litter.  


Just one cigarette butt can contaminate 1 litre of water1, and 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts wind up as litter worldwide each year2. Those are some frightening numbers, but there’s a solution! ALL of those materials can be recycled, for free, through TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Recycling Program3. Since the program’s launch in 2012, more than 70 million cigarette butts have been collected worldwide. A Greener Future’s Butt Blitz in 2015 resulted in a total of 87,000 cigarette butts being collected and going from litter to new life – in one day! TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Recycling Program will take all of these items (see photo above)*, and give them new life as recycled industrial products, like plastic pallets. Things like tobacco and ash that cannot be melted down and reused are separated out and composted in a specialized process. By reusing products from recycled cigarette waste, TerraCycle is not only reducing litter, but also reducing the need for wood or virgin plastic to make commonly used industrial products.


All you have to do is collect your waste, print a shipping label, and send your collection to TerraCycle completely free of charge! There are plenty of odourless, safe solutions for collecting cigarette butts and waste to make this easier, and once you start, it will become a common practice. Encourage your friends, family, school or business to start saving their cigarette waste and participate in this year’s annual Butt Blitz on May 7th, 2016. For more information and to register for this year's event Click Here! To join our Facebook event page Click Here! To learn more about TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste and other recycling programs, contact them at or 1-800-758-2943, or check out their website,


1 Jacob Gina. “Cigarette Butts Toxic to Marine life.” San Diego State University (May 1st, 2009)

2 iQ Research 7 Consulting. Keep America Beautiful Pocket Ashtray Study (January 2008)

3 TerraCycle. Cigarette Waste Recycling Program: How it Works (2016)

*TerraCycle does not accept the cardboard packaging of a cigarette box, because that can be recycled through your municipal recycling program.


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