Saving our Waters, One Butt at a Time
In 2012, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup collected more than 419,000 cigarette butts from shorelines across Canada, over 25 per cent of which were diverted to TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Brigade program.
My passion for the environment and clean waterways was born out of my love of diving. I learned to scuba dive more than 10 years ago on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I have never witnessed anything so majestic and pristine, and have since found diving to be something of an obsession of mine.
My most recent trip was in the summer of 2012. I spent two months diving in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, among other countries. As amazing as the diving was, I often resurfaced with a hand or pocket full of garbage. I found all kinds of packaging and wrappers stuck to coral, drifting in the water or floating at the surface – most often hundreds of kilometres away from land. These changes I have seen in the condition and health of our oceans since I started scuba diving has fueled my desire to create change through my work at TerraCycle, and thus eliminate the waste that ends up in our oceans and lakes.
Cigarettes are such a common sight on beaches in Canada and around the world that we barely register them as litter. Millions of butts are thrown carelessly onto our beaches and roadways with little thought given to the environmental impact that cigarette butts cause. Contrary to popular belief, cigarettes butts or filters are not biodegradable. There is a plastic in the filter called cellulose acetate that takes years to break down, while leaching toxic chemicals into our waterways.
TerraCycle recycles hard-to-recycle items like cigarette waste by working with brand partners to find solutions for some of the most difficult waste streams. Nothing that is sent to TerraCycle will end up in a landfill or incinerator, or more importantly, in our lakes, oceans or the mouths of our precious wildlife.
Hundreds of thousands of cigarettes butts and filters litter Canadian beaches. Through the Cigarette Waste Brigade and the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, we have the ability to recycle them all. Not only that, but all participants who send in a pound of cigarette waste to this program receive 100 TerraCycle points (equal to $1.00). These points can then be used to purchase charitable gifts and TerraCycle products, or they can be converted to cash for a donation to a school or non-profit of your choice.*
We’re helping to make cigarette litter a thing of the past. Over the past two years, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup site coordinators were encouraged to sign up for a TerraCycle account, join the Cigarette Waste Brigade and send in their collected cigarette waste, free of charge.
In 2012, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup site coordinators sent in an estimated 109,000 cigarette butts to TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Brigade. Click here for more information about the program and how you can help eliminate cigarette waste in Canada.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is a joint collaboration of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, and is the largest direct-action conservation initiative in Canada.
*Please note that a minimum of 3 pounds of cigarette waste is required for a TerraCycle donation.
Blog post written by Michelle Gill, TerraCycle Canada