Cigarette Butts everything you need to know

According to a recent study by the Office for National Statistics, around 14.9% of adults in the UK consider themselves to be smokers, meaning that the safe disposal of cigarette butts and similar was products is vital if we want to protect the planet for future generations. While the safe disposal of cigarette waste lies mainly on the shoulders of the smoker, it can also prove to be a real issue for those who work within the hospital industry.

With that in mind, here is a guide regarding everything you need to know about Cigarette Butts and their disposal.

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Cigarette Butt FAQs.

What are cigarette butts?

Many people mistakenly believe that cigarettes do not produce too much waste, as they often leave behind little residue after the tobacco has been burned or smoked. However, it’s important that we think carefully about what they do leave behind. Cigarette butts are made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that takes upwards of 10 years to decompose. This means that while dropping the end of a cigarette on the ground here and there might not seem like much of an issue, they are actually doing untold damage to the environment. In fact, the National Geographic found that cigarette butts are the world’s most littered plastic items.

How many people drop cigarette butts?

While there are plenty of ways to dispose of cigarette butts safely, a staggering amount of cigarettes are dropped in the streets or down the drain. As a result, the UK government launched a #BinTheButt campaign in 2019, aiming to target the issue. During their research, they found that:

52% of smokers thought that it was okay to put a cigarette down the drain.
11% of smokers do not classify cigarette butts as litter.
75% of smokers report dropping cigarette litter on the floor.

Not only does cigarette litter cause great environmental damage, collecting or picking up discarded waste costs the government a great deal of money annually.

How do cigarette butts contribute to pollution?

Cigarette butts contribute to pollution when they are dropped down drains or into the street, as they could later find their way into rivers, streams, or even the ocean. It’s estimated that around 4.7 trillion cigarettes can be found in the ocean each year – which causes a great deal of damage to water sources and threatens marine life.

Are there any chemicals in cig butts?

Cigarettes and cigarette butts also contribute heavily to pollution because they release certain chemicals and toxins while degrading. This includes:

    • Nicotine
    • Arsenic
    • Lead
    • Formaldehyde
    Polyaromatic hydrocarbons

Are Cigarette Butts biodegradable?

One of the key issues regarding the disposal of cigarette butts is the simple fact that they are not biodegradable. While exposure to sunlight can cause them to break down into smaller particles, they will never disappear entirely.

How can they be recycled?

Cigarette waste is stored in specialist bins before collection.
The waste is then collected by a licensed waste carrier and taken to a specialist facility.
Paper waste and residual tobacco products are separated from the rest of the cigarette waste and composted. This is a great way to dispose of organic waste without relying on landfill sites. You can find out more here.
Cigarette butts litter (cellulose acetate) is thoroughly cleaned to remove the traces of chemicals or hazardous waste.
The plastic is then melted and turned into pellets. This process is known as extrusion.
The pellets are then mixed with other kinds of plastic, ready to be reused or repurposed.

What can Cigarette Butts be made into?

Recycled pellets, produced in the Cigarette butt recycling process, can be used to make a wide range of plastic products. This includes:

    • Drain Pipes/Gutters
    • Pipes
    • Fencing
    • Decking
    Window and door frames

How to dispose of Cigarette Butts?

Whether you work in a pub, bar, restaurant or simply have employees who smoke, it’s important that you incorporate cigarette butt disposal into your waste management plan. One way in which you can achieve this goal is by working with a company such as BusinessWaste. We will:

Provide you with a range of free bins to safely store waste on-site.
Arrange for the regular collection of your business waste – tailoring the schedule to your unique needs. As each business requires a different schedule, we offer daily, weekly, or even monthly waste collection plans.
Ensure that your waste is taken to the right recycling facility instead of sending it directly to a landfill site.

To find out more information, or for a free quote, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

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