Resource Use

City-wide cigarette recycling introduced in Davos

An innovative collection and recycling programme for cigarette butts was launched yesterday (17 January) in the city of Davos in Switzerland just as the World Economic Forum began this week.

Thanks to a partnership between the City of Davos and specialist recycling collection company TerraCycle, people in Davos can now recycle their cigarette butts by extinguishing and placing them in easily accessible and well-marked cigarette ashtrays located at public locations along the main roads of the city.

City-wide cigarette recycling introduced in DavosSmokers’ materials, including cigarette butts, are the most commonly occurring items of litter in the world. The Chicago Tribune reported in 2008 that over 766,000 tonnes of cigarette butts wind up as litter worldwide per year – the equivalent of about one in three cigarettes.  

Worse, cigarette butts are not biodegradable and do not break down quickly, making them a serious environmental hazard when not correctly disposed. Last year, Cllr Richard Beddoe, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for City Management, called cigarette butts a “sworn enemy” of local government, costing the public purse needless millions every year.

TerraCycle hopes the new cigarette recycling initiative, which was piloted in Vancouver in 2013, will provide the motivation for people to clean up their communities by diverting the thousands of cigarette butts which currently end up in waste bins and incineration – or in many cases become litter on the streets.

All the cigarette waste collected in the ashtrays will be sent to TerraCycle and then recycled into a variety of useful plastic products, such as delivery pallets, reducing the need to use virgin plastic. The organic parts of the waste – the paper and remaining tobacco – will be composted.

Welcoming the scheme, Stefan Walser, Governor of Davos, commented: “By placing clearly-marked cigarette waste recycling ashtrays in convenient public locations across the city, we are making it easier for people to do their part in keeping the city cigarette litter free and a nicer place to live and work.”

TerraCycle CEO and Founder Tom Szaky, added: “TerraCycle already runs highly successful city and countrywide cigarette waste recycling programmes in a number of countries around the world. We hope that world leaders at this week’s World Economic Forum will take note of this new cigarette recycling initiative and consider recommending similar solutions are implemented in other cities and countries around the world.”

Members of the business world have descended on the alpine town this week for the forum, which has already seen backing of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a basis for development and an action plan for improving the design and business models for plastic products to create a more circular economy.

WasteAid UK partners with TerraCycle

As well as the partnership with Davos, TerraCycle has linked up with charity WasteAid UK this month to raise money for waste management in lower-income countries.

TerraCycle offers recycling programmes for many different waste streams in the UK, for which anybody can sign up as a private collector or run the programme through a public location.

WasteAid UK is encouraging people to sign up to one of these free recycling programmes. In return, waste can be sent to WasteAid UK (using freely downloadable stamps), which will credit ‘TerraCycle points’ to accounts for the weight of waste sent. These can then be redeemed towards a charitable gift or monetary contribution to the charity.

WasteAid UK works to help teach simple recycling and waste management processes in communities in developing countries that can be used to turn informally-treated waste into a source of income and can be spread throughout communities.   

More can be found out about the scheme by visiting Terracycle’s website.

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