Cigarette butts are a bigger environmental problem than you might realize, with some 6 trillion cigarettes produced every year, creating 1.2 million tonnes of garbage. And due to the chemicals and heavy metals in the filters, that garbage is technically toxic waste. So what if we could get rid of butt litter by using them to make bricks? A team at RMIT University in Australia tried the idea out.
The research, led by RMIT senior lecturer Abbas Mohajerani, found that using butts in the production of clay-fired bricks trapped the pollutants inside, preventing things like arsenic, cadmium, chromium and nickel from leaching into the environment. Countering 6 trillion cigarettes annually sounds like a losing battle, but the team believes it is achievable.