New Orleans putting smoked butts in a better place

NEW ORLEANS — In New Orleans, discarded butts are being turned into something useful.

The first of 50 cigarette butt recycling receptacles was installed at a downtown intersection Monday. Developers of the program say New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort launched in Canada last year.

Trenton, New Jersey- based recycling company TerraCycle Inc. developed the program in 2012. The first citywide receptacles were placed in Vancouver, British Columbia, in November 2013.

“Globally we have collected 25 million butts since November of 2012,” said company spokesman Albe Zakes, adding that the company is in talks with officials in Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo, Phoenix and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Officials with the New Orleans Downtown Development District said joining the program was a no-brainer. Smokers flock to curbside trash bins and public benches for nicotine fixes, and smoking is still allowed in bars that do not serve food. The downtown area is just blocks from the French Quarter and is home to the huge Harrah’s Casino.

That adds up to a lot of cigarette butts.

District spokeswoman Devona Dolliole said a one-day sweep in 2011 turned up nearly 7,000 cigarette butts downtown.

According to TerraCycle, New Orleans will be paid $4 for each pound of cigarette waste collected.

The organic materials, such as tobacco and paper, are composted.

Cigarette filters, though they look and feel like fiber, are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic. Once collected, they are shredded and bio-toxins removed with the use of gamma radiation, Zakes said.

“It’s the same exact process used on fish and other meats to assure there are no bio-contaminants, so it is very safe,” Zakes said.

The filters are then melted into plastic pellets for industrial use in the same way a plastic bottle would be recycled, Zakes said.

“We only use the pellets for industrial applications, such as plastic lumber and plastic shipping pallets,” he said. “We don’t make any consumer products from this material, mostly because of the stigma around butts.”

More in Herald Business Journal

Best foot forward: Ferndale company to make custom shoes easy

Long specializing in insoles, Superfeet is putting 3-D machines in stores to make customized shoes.

Does a hypersonic US reconnaissance plane already exist?

A Skunk Works executive speaks of the top secret aircraft as if it is already in operation.

Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz has been called up and will be spending much of the year away from his office. He is going to Afghanistan. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Port of Everett CEO reporting for duty — in Afghanistan

Les Reardanz has been called to active duty with the Navy for an eight-month deployment.

Early boarding pass: Everett’s rising passenger terminal

Here’s what to expect when two airlines begin passenger service at Paine Field later this year.

Trump’s company fights efforts to shed the president’s name

“Our homes are worth more without the Trump name.”

Airbus floats shutdown of A380 superjumbo

The aircraft is so big that some airports had to expand runways to accommodate the 550-seat plane.

Make sure you don’t miss the memo for financial freedom

Economic empowerment for low- to moderate-income individuals and families.

Western group asks Congress for pot biz protection

The group represents Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Arizona.

Most Read