Gallery: NYC Assemblyman Proposes City-Wide Cigarette Recycling Program


Approximately 176 million pounds of cigarette butts are discarded in the United States every year. Usually they end up on the ground or in a landfill and leach their toxic chemicals into the water table. Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker, of Queens New York, wants to do something about that. He recently found out that cigarette butts can be turned into all kinds of useful things, so he proposed a bill for a cigarette recycling program for New York City. It would charge a 1 cent deposit on each cigarette — similar to the current bottle recycling system — to fund the recycling program and get those butts off the street.

If you live in New York City and you love the earth, you’re probably as furious as we are when you see those little discarded butts hanging out in the gutters and on the sidewalks. Well, the same can be said for the constituent who turned Assemblymen DenDekker onto this idea. After the idea was proposed, DenDekker found lots of uses for recycled cigarettes. If soaked in water they create a solution that can keep steel pipes from eroding, they can be made into sealants and glues, and a clothing maker in Brazil turns them into fabric.

The bill would put the departments of Environmental Conservation and Health in charge of the recycling program, and it would be funded partially by the 1 cent deposits payed by smokers when they purchase a pack. It would be the first recycling initiative of its kind in the country. DenDekker was a smoker for 30 years, but has since quit and doesn’t mind seeing smokers pay more for their habit, especially because of the waste they cause in our cities. “This is something that is going to be a long process,” DenDekker noted, “but imagine if we had started cleaning them up 20 years ago.”

+ Michael G. DenDekker

Via New York Times


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  1. cigarettebuttrecycler October 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    See for more information…

  2. rebootnyc June 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I always thought butts would be good for pot holes in the roads, especially in the cities. It would cushion the cars and make the streets less noisy. Using everything that is discarded on the planet already to make other things, will keep our air, water and land less polluted.

    I tell people to take their butts home with them. If their rooms filled up with butts maybe they would stop supporting these corporations that damage our earth.

  3. designvagabond June 5, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    i don’t quite buy into this proposal without more specifics. i commend that they are trying to clean the streets of this filthy trash, but a. with all the obvious toxins in cigarettes i would need to see some hard evidence that the toxins don’t transfer into the recycled material (the cigarette clothing sounds disgusting) and b. for people who care so little about the environment and health in any sort of altruistic manner, how many do you think would actually recycle their butts – and for a mere one cent? i see people throw their cigarettes on the side of the road when they are standing next to a sidewalk ashtray.

  4. recycle85 June 4, 2010 at 12:05 am

    For NY a bill is the way to go but for states with a higher economic freedom score profitability is the name of the game. Upcycling Cigarettes into usable products has to pay for the collection of the butts otherwise wait untill the robots come.

  5. benbethel June 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    This is a fantastic idea… for years I’ve proposed that all cigarette butts have a 5 cent deposit on them – this would eliminate the butt littering you see in national parks, streets, sidewalks, and oceans/rivers… and it would probably even end homelessness – homeless people would be RICH!

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