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TerraCycle and the City of Vancouver have launched a new pilot program to recycle cigarette butts.

The program will help keep Vancouver clean and move the city closer to its Greenest City 2020 Action Plan goals.

The Cigarette Waste Brigade® pilot program – the first of its kind in the world – launched with the installation of 110 new cigarette recycling receptacles on several blocks within 4 downtown Business Improvement Areas (BIAs).

“Cigarette butts are a real source of litter downtown, and this innovative pilot project with TerraCycle will help keep toxic butts off our streets and out of the landfill. This is a great example of how we can move closer to our Greenest City goals, provide job opportunities for low-income residents, and keep our downtown looking great.” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The pilot program, funded by TerraCycle Canada, is a partnership between the City of Vancouver, United We Can, EMBERS, and the four BIAs, to make this pervasive waste easily collectable and recyclable.

“Cigarette waste is the most littered item across the globe,” says Nina Purewal, general manager of TerraCycle Canada. “We are thrilled that the City of Vancouver has joined us to become the first city in the world 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.”

Through the program, TerraCycle will supply the receptacles and cover costs related to installation, emptying receptacles, maintenance, collection and processing of waste, and evaluation.

The program will provide green jobs through two local Vancouver inner-city social enterprises. EMBERS staff will install and maintain the receptacles, while United We Can staff will service the receptacles and ship the cigarette waste to TerraCycle.

Regular evaluation will be conducted throughout the pilot program.

The Vancouver pilot program will also serve as a model for potential future TerraCycle receptacle placements in other municipalities.

Contrary to popular belief, cigarette filters are not biodegradable. Filters are made from cellulose acetate, and they never lose their toxicity and can poison essential links in the aquatic food chain.

Published in the February 2014 Edition of American Recycler News