Solid Waste & Recycling Magazine


SMOKIN’ HOT: TerraCycle stompin’ out butt waste, hits 20 million mark


Canada’s quirkiest recycler, TerraCycle, has reached a milestone in the world of butt-kicking. 

After expanding its innovative recycling program called Cigarette Waste Brigade, and teaming with Imperial Tobacco in 2012, TerraCycle has officially surpassed the 20-million milestone for recycled cigarette butts, one of the world’s most troublesome form of street litter. 

The program has reached high levels of success based on a formula of offering charitable donations for each pound of cigarette waste collected and mailed in. The collected material is recycled into plastic industrial applications or composted according to industry regulations. 

TerraCycle and its participants have raised upwards of $300,000 for charity through its various Brigade programs. 

“We’re committed to working with consumers, employees and our partners to forge a tobacco industry that continually improves its performance in the area of corporate social responsibility,” says Marie Polet,  president and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada. “We are honoured and privileged to support the Cigarette Waste Brigade program who have done an excellent job.” 

The Brigade program recycles the cigarette butts, inner foil, outer wrap, unused tobacco, ashes and other elements that comprise cigarette waste. 

Cigarettes are made from cellulose acetate, which takes years to break down, says TerraCycle. The steps taken to reduce cigarette litter will have a positive impact on waterways, wildlife and human health. By making plastic products from recycled cigarette waste, the program not only reduces the amount of litter globally, but also reduces the need to employ wood or virgin plastic in the production of common industrial pallets, which TerraCycle makes from the recycled plastic created by the cigarette filters.             

Cigarette filters were also the number one item recovered during the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup in 2013. 

According to TerraCycle, only 10 per cent of cigarette waste is properly disposed of in receptacles.

Participate in the program by visiting