New Hannover organization in top 10 for cigarette butt recycling

Each bucket holds approximately 8 pounds of cigarette waste, or nearly 8,000 individual butts. (Courtesy of Keep New Hanover Beautiful)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — For the past five years, Keep New Hanover Beautiful has been recycling cigarette butts in the county — and some neighboring counties — to help reduce trash and waste. The nonprofit organization ships cigarette butts to TerraCycle, a company that separates tobacco from paper and filters.

The filter is turned into plastic pellets which can be used by manufacturers for several products such as shipping pallets, ashtrays and park benches. The tobacco is composted.

READ MORE: New recycling program aims to keep your cigarette butts off the streets of Wilmington

According to KNHB’s Dick Brightman, to date the local has recycled 1,560,000 cigarette butts, or 1,560 pounds. The organization’s production ranked her in the top 10 across the country for her efforts, according to TerraCycle.

TerraCycle reported that KNHB is number eight in the nation for entities that recycle discarded cigarette butts, including cities, cruise lines, and more,” Brightman said in a KNHB press release.

Keep New Hanover Beautiful has nearly 400 containers in New Hanover, as well as 60 donated to other counties. It also donated 91 containers to the city of Wilmington to replace its aging containers. Stations are located at Wilmington International Airport, beach access points, UNCW, malls, breweries, and restaurants, among others.

The main objective of KNHB is to eliminate marine litter, as cigarette butts quickly end up in coastal waters due to the large amount of waste in the product.

Terra Cycle collects millions of cigarette butts each year and has recycling programs that engage over 200 million people in 21 countries. The New Jersey-based country collects more than eight billion pieces of non-recyclable waste.


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Aubrey L. Morgan