TerraCycle and the City of Vancouver are launching a new pilot program to recycle cigarette butts, which will help keep Vancouver’s downtown 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 today with the installation of 110 new cigarette recycling receptacles on several blocks within four downtown Business Improvement Areas including: Downtown Vancouver, West End, Robson and Gastown. The receptacles will be easily identified with stickers that say ‘Recycle Your Butts Here’.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that people want easy and convenient ways to keep our downtown streets and public spaces clean,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “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.”
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. Mayor Robertson first met with TerraCycle on a business visit to New York in 2009.
“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. The four BIAs were consulted on the location of the receptacles and support the initiative.
“Having these receptacles in convenient locations will make it easier for people to do their part in keeping downtown streets cigarette litter free and keep our city beautiful,” said Stephen Regan, Executive Director of the West End Business Improvement Association.
“The recycling initiatives in this unique pilot program will help keep the streets of Vancouver looking clean and provide working opportunities for disadvantaged people from the Downtown Eastside,” said Gerry Martin, General Manager of United We Can. “United We Can is proud to be involved in this social venture.”
Regular evaluation will be conducted throughout the pilot program. After a few months, project partners will determine whether to keep the receptacles in their piloted locations permanently and explore expanding the network of receptacles to additional areas of the city. 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. They’re made from cellulose acetate, which even though it slowly breaks down in the environment, it never loses its toxicity and can poison essential links in the aquatic food chain.
Image: City of Vancouver