May 26, 2010
Deposit on Cigarette Butts? Recycling Program Proposed for New York
A statewide program would reduce waste and boost jobs and cash flow.
If a bill recently proposed by NYC Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker passes, New York will soon have a cigarette butt recycling program that would collect a one-cent deposit on every cigarette and put a dent in the waste stream created by old cigarettes alone. (According to DenDekker's office, that waste stream adds up to more than 176 million pounds every year nationwide.)
Under the bill, the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health would develop the program. As for the end uses of cigarette butts as a recyclable material? The New York Times City Room explains some of the potential options:
in China, scientists had found that soaking cigarette butts in water creates a solution that can protect steel pipes used by the oil industry from corroding. In Brazil, a fashion designer, Alexandra Guerrero, cleans cigarette butts, dyes them and spins them with sheep wool into clothing. And in Ohio, an inventor has a patent pending to turn cigarette butts into adhesives and sealants.
Without any of the political support it will need to pass, the bill is still way too young to know if it will succeed or how it will look if it does. But, like DenDekker told The Times, "imagine if we had started cleaning them up 20 years ago.”