Recycled butts put to use as collection program expands

Smokers can feel a little better about taking a drag downtown as a program that recycles cigarette butts into industrial products expands.

The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association (KCBIA) is behind the installation of an additional 10 cigarette butt receptacles on poles in the city’s core, doubling the 10 were set up in the area last summer.

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“It’s a good program,” Customer Care and Patrol Team (CAP) supervisor Alix Proulx said.

The initiative curbs litter and prevents fires that can result from smokers tossing a lit butt into a trash can. Proulx said the KCBIA pinpointed areas of complaint, including in front of the Central Station Pub, CJs Nightclub and Carlos O’Bryans. Last year, 21 pounds of cigarette butts were collected in the 10 receptacles for half of the summer.

“It was shocking to us just how much waste that was,” Proulx said.

The City of Kamloops pitched in $2,000 for the receptacles, paid for through its waste-diversion program.

“It seemed like a great idea,” City of Kamloops environmental services manager Glen Farrow said.

Farrow said smokers often don’t know where to put their cigarette butts. People in the past have snuffed them out on garbage cans, leaving ash everywhere. He said the city would be open to adding receptacles north of the river if the initiative was to be spearheaded by the North Shore Business Improvement Association.

Proulx called the program a win-win because TerraCycle — the same company that accepts for free those hard-to-recycle baby food pouches — pays to ship the butts to its facility in eastern Canada, where it grinds down the butts before the plastic is sold to manufacturers to build palettes, plastic lumber and other low-grade industrial products.

While many smokers toss butts on the ground, plastic filters are not biodegradable.

“That’s the biggest misconception,” TerraCycle Canada director of operations Lenny Wang said.

Packaging, however, must be recycled through the city’s regular recycling program. TerraCycle also donates back to the CAP program $1 for every pound of cigarette butts collected. Look for signs downtown that say “Butt out here.”

“We’re trying to raise the awareness of them,” Proulx said.

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