While we usually think about premature deaths and second hand smoke when we think about the detrimental effects of cigarettes, one consequence that often gets overlooked is the toxic effect they have on the environment. New York City alone boasts a smoking population that puts away 10 million cigarettes a day, tossing out 1.9 tons worth of butts bound for local landfills. As minuscule as each may seem though, these butts are made from a plastic that does not break down easily, posing a threat to the environment – in particular NY’s water and streams. To stop the unhealthy insurgence, Mike Gabbidon of Eco Tech Displays has come up with a cigarette butt recycling program located on Staten Island that will hopefully give way to less landfill waste and new materials that could be used in construction and more.
Gabbidon is an employee of EcoTechDisplays, a company that has mounted hundreds of advertising-covered ashtrays outside bars and restaurants across New York City. But rather than letting them hit the landfills, EcoTech Displays empties each ash tray on a daily basis and brings the filters to a warehouse in Staten Island and carefully stores them away. The goal of the company is to have raw material on hand whenever scientists are able to figure out an economical way to recycle cigarette butts.
“It’s our mission to make sure they don’t go into the landfill and don’t go into the water stream,” said EcoTech’s spokesman, Larry Dell. “When you see it in this form, it really gets to you what a polluting substance it is. We don’t want to add to the pollution.”
The company believes that eventually the filters could be cleaned and packed into a form of insulation, or even dissolved and used as a protective coating on steel in oil rigs.
Queens Assemblyman Michael DenDekker hopes to spur that industry by requiring them to be recycled throughout the state. He has even initiated a bill to set up statewide recycling centers for cigarette butts, with a penny-per-smoke deposit added to the cost of every pack in the hopes that it will both motivate people to collect and return them, and heighten awareness of their detrimental effects on the earth.
Via NY Daily News
Photo: © a4gpa