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WZDX

Cigarette butt recycling receptacles prevent smokers from littering in Florence

The City of Florence is cleaning up its streets. Officials are installing recycle receptacles around town, but the receptacles aren't for paper and plastic....
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The City of Florence is cleaning up its streets. Officials are installing recycle receptacles around town, but the receptacles aren’t for paper and plastic. 

The Florence Solid Waste, Street and Recycle Department has begun installing cigarette butt recycling receptacles. City leaders say it’s an effort to stop people from littering.

“It’s our single biggest piece of litter,” said Florence Mayor Steve Holt.

WZDX News counted more than a dozen cigarette butts outside of Florence City Hall alone. 

“I think over the life of our recycling, maybe 30,000 tons or more have been kept out of our landfill, but there’s one item that never gets there and that’s the cigarette butt,” said Holt.

This is why the city has now installed cigarette butts recycling receptacles. 

“We found these receptacles that can be placed on a light pole, or in some cases we have actually have some metal poles that we’ve put in the ground and then attach these receptacles to it,” Holt said.

The cigarette butts recycling receptacles are being placed through out the city, including near government buildings and schools.

“I don’t like to throw them on the ground because I don’t like to see it on the ground. That’s the first thing I look. It’s like ‘dang where’s somewhere to put it,” said Debra Hunt.

The receptacles, made by the company Teracycle, are about $100 apiece. Once a bundle of cigarette butts are collected, they will be turned into reusable industrial plastic products.

How does it work? According to the city it goes like this:
1. Cigarette butts are placed in specific receptacles.
2. Butts are collected and mailed to Teracycle at no cost.
3. Tobacco is separated and removed from the filters.
4. Filters are sterilized, shredded, and melted.
5. The plastic pellets are used to make something new such as plastic shipping pallets, railway sleepers and more.

Holt said it’s an continued effort to keep the streets of Florence and the environment clean.

“The filter toe of that cigarette butt has at least a 10 year life span. So when somebody flicks that cigarette butt on our street, it lays there and eventually gets into a storm drain and eventually gets into the river,” he said. 

Cigarette recycling receptacles can be found in cities throughout the US and around the world, including the UK, France and Brazil.