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TerraCycle to recycle cigarette butts

By: Shawn Wright

November 16, 2012

SANTA FE, N.M. (Nov. 16, 11:50 a.m. ET) — Hold on to your butts … cigarette, that is. New Mexico-based Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., the nation’s second-largest cigarette maker, and TerraCycle Inc. are partnering to recycle cigarette butts into pellets used to make such items as park benches, shipping pallets and railroad ties.

The Cigarette Waste Brigade is asking people to save and collect their butts, sending them to the recycling company through a prepaid shipping label.

For every pound of cigarette waste sent to Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle, the sender will receive 100 TerraCycle points, which can be redeemed for a variety of charitable gifts, or for a payment of 1 cent per point to the charity of their choice, according to TerraCycle’s website.

The company will recycle the filters into pellets used to make a number of items, including ashtrays. The paper and tobacco also will be composted. It took nearly two years to develop the process to recycle the butts, made of paper, tobacco, ash and a filter from cellulose acetate.

Cigarette refuse accounted for 38 percent of all U.S. roadway litter, according to a 2009 study conducted by nonprofit Keep America Beautiful.