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Clean Streets Cigarette Waste Recycling Program Launches on America Recycles Day

November 15,2016

On Tuesday, November 15, the launch of the Clean Streets Cigarette Waste Recycling Program took place in Woodruff Park. A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District; Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Atlanta; and Sarah Elizabeth Reed, First Lady, City of Atlanta, provided remarks.

Thanks to Zoo Atlanta, Reko, a yellow-naped Amazon parrot, also made an appearance to emphasize the harmful effects that cigarette waste can have on wildlife.

Cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded piece of waste worldwide.  It is estimated that 1.69 BILLION pounds of butts wind up as toxic trash each year, creating an enormous environmental, health, and economic burden.

Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable. Cigarette butt waste is a huge environmental issue, with a global impact -- it is both unsightly and unhealthy.

Animals such as birds, fish, and other aquatic life may mistakes cigarette butts for food, leading to death from choking or blocked digestion (Source:  EnvironmentalHealthNews.org)

Program Overview:  The City of Atlanta is introducing “Clean Streets,” a cigarette waste recycling program, to Downtown Atlanta.  In partnership with the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID), the Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission and TerraCycle, the program will support the city’s zero waste goals.

Fifty cigarette butt and ash receptacles have been installed in highly traveled sidewalk areas throughout Downtown Atlanta allowing smokers to responsibly and safely dispose of their cigarette butts. The “Clean Streets” program will encourage enforcement of litter laws, specifically cigarette litter; and raise awareness about cleanliness in public spaces.  Ash receptacles will be placed at transition points such as entrances to public buildings and pocket or portable ashtrays will be distributed to adult smokers to promote as healthy living education.

All cigarette butts collected in the “Clean Streets” program will be sent to TerraCycle, where every component of the waste is processed. The plastic-fiber filter will be recycled by TerraCycle into industrial products such as shipping pallets and railroad ties, while any paper or leftover tobacco is composted.

About TerraCycle: TerraCycle partners with many municipalities around the world to bring zero waste solutions that range from city-wide programs for recycling cigarette butts to curbside programs to recycle hard-to-recycle materials. 

TerraCyle will donate $1 to Keep America Beautiful for every pound of cigarette butts recycled.