No butts: TerraCycle launches UK-wide cigarette recycling scheme

A new initiative that will provide a means to recycle discarded cigarette butts along with associated smokers' waste has been launched in the UK this week - the first of its kind for the nation's recycling industry.

Developers TerraCycle, which creates solutions for hard-to-recycle materials, has partnered with Japan Tobacco International (JTI) to launch the Cigarette Waste Brigade.

The Brigade will allow cigarette butts and filters, ash, rolling paper, inner foil and outer plastic packaging all collected in an attempt to reduce the cause of more than 35% of total litter on UK streets.

TerraCycle chief executive Tom Szaky said: “The Cigarette Waste Brigade has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of cigarette waste that is littered. At the same time it also provides a recycling solution for cigarette butts that have been properly disposed of in an ashtray but before the launch of this new cigarette waste recycling solution would have ultimately ended up in landfill anyway.”

“Both TerraCycle and JTI encourage people across the UK to sign up to the Cigarette Waste Brigade and to approach workplaces and public places with designated smoking areas in your communities to sign up as well.

“Pubs, bars, restaurants, shopping centres, train stations, airports and even local councils are exactly the sort of places that should be encouraged to sign up and recycle the cigarette waste that is being generated on their premises.”


Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and do not break down quickly. TerraCycle will convert the waste into a variety of plastic products including delivery pallets and the leftover tobacco and paper will be composted.

The Brigade will provide a simple method for people across the UK to keep their communities clean by diverting billions of cigarette butts which currently end up in landfill or littered on the streets. TerraCycle is encouraging individuals, workplaces and councils to sign up to the scheme and send their waste to the company for free.

TerraCycle has previously worked with numerous companies who produce plastic waste as a bi-product. Earlier this year, United Biscuits recycled its one millionth wrapper as part of the McVities Biscuit Wrapper Brigade, saving 2.5 tonnes worth of wrappers from landfill sites in the process.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble’s air freshener brand Febreze also recently partnered with TerraCycle to allow previously non-recyclable air and home care products to be collected as part of the Air and Home Care Brigade.

This is the second scheme involving cigarette waste that edie has reported on this month, after Westminster City Council partnered with cleaners Veolia in placing giant cigarettes, voting ashtrays and music-playing poles around the area to raise awareness of the amount of cigarette butts littering the streets.

Matt Mace

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