This product helps convert your ‘leftover cigarettes’ into pillows, the path towards a sustainable future
It is a widely unrecognized reality that each year, India sees the disposal of over 100 billion cigarette butts in its landfills. An important aspect to note is that the filter found in cigarettes is made from cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that is not biodegradable. This means that it takes roughly a decade for this component to decompose fully.
This poses a very serious threat – the threat to our environment and the problem requires an answer.
Meet the ‘CODE Effort’ organisation, which stands for Conserving Our Depleting Environment. Founded in 2018 by Naman Gupta, the organisation is collectively trying to manage and repurpose cigarette litter systematically.
Code Effort’s responsibilities include collecting, cleaning, processing and recycling all cigarette waste. These are later converted into 100% toxin-free lifestyle essentials such as pillows, keychains, mosquito repellants and even air purifiers.
“Since our inception, we’ve managed to recycle 300,000,000 cigarette butts – the equivalent of 100,000kg and counting,” as per the organisation, till December 2021, in a blog.
The team at CODE Efforts relies on two key source points for collection service: the waste picker communities and large corporates with a desire to manage their cigarette waste responsibly.
The waste picker network is crucial for the organisation because they are the ones who handle the initial steps of waste segregation and collection. Cigarettes are the most commonly littered item on Earth and are often found on sidewalks or discarded on the ground. As a result, waste pickers collect this littered cigarette waste and are compensated once the organisation receives the collections. Additionally, they partner with willing associates across districts on tenure-based contracts.
Similarly, the company offers a convenient service for large corporations, VBin. This service allows for easy waste collection by installing wall-mounted cigarette bins in designated smoking areas within the organisation. The collection representatives visit these sites every two weeks to collect the accumulated waste for processing at the factories.
The action starts as soon as the cigarette waste arrives at the facility. The obtained cigarette butts are first manually separated and divided into their component parts:
- the paper covering (the outside cigarette wrapping paper made of flax or linen),
- the residual tobacco, and
- the Cellulose Acetate fibre (produced from the cigarette filters).
Thereafter, the waste is converted into carry bags, pillows, key chains, mosquito repellents, and other sustainable products.
What can we do
There are a number of ways to tackle the problem of cigarette butt waste. Some solutions include:
- Education and awareness campaigns: Educating the public about the negative impact of cigarette butt waste and encouraging them to dispose of their cigarette butts properly can help reduce the amount of litter in the environment.
- Implementing policies and regulations: Governments can implement policies and regulations to reduce the environmental impact of cigarette butt waste. For example, implementing a cigarette butt littering fine or requiring businesses to provide ashtrays or cigarette disposal units.
- Cigarette butt recycling programs: There are organizations that recycle cigarette butts to use cellulose acetate as raw material for other products such as plastic pallets or plastic pellets.
- Community clean-up efforts: Community clean-up efforts, such as litter picks or beach clean-ups, can help remove cigarette butt waste from the environment and raise awareness about the issue.
- Encourage smoking only in designated areas: Encourage smokers to smoke only in designated areas and make it more accessible to dispose of the cigarette in the proper way.
- Providing incentives for proper disposal: Incentives for smokers who properly dispose of their cigarette butts, such as discounts or rewards, can encourage more responsible behaviour.
It’s important to note that a combination of these solutions may be needed to tackle the problem of cigarette butt waste effectively.
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