War has been declared on cigarette butts!

Posted on 18 March 2016.

The Lyon-based start-up Cy-Clope helps large companies with sustainable development aspirations to recycle their employees’ cigarette butts.

Smoking is not just harmful to health. It also damages the environment. Did you know that a single cigarette butt will pollute up to 500 liters of water and take 12 years to disappear? And it’s the most frequently dumped waste in the world... in particular in the workplace. An estimated 135,000 butts find their way into the garbage every second - in a company with 250 employees 250,000 cigarette butts will be stubbed out every year.

A young Lyon start-up thought about it and embarked on managing and recycling cigarette butts. Behind the project are Antoine Di Tommaso and Thibault Legrand, two young graduates from EMLYON. After joining the top business and management school’s incubator, they set up Cy-Clope in April 2015. Their target customers: local authorities and big business where cigarette breaks are an institution.

The Cy-Clope team delivers a total solution for cigarette butt management, which has several stages. It firstly analyzes cigarette breaks in the company in order to establish the type of procedure to be put in place. Secondly, it conducts an employee awareness campaign, from both an environmental and a health point of view. Then it installs one or more collectors that can hold up to 10,000 cigarette butts. They are called "Cy-Clopeurs" and their colorful modern design contrasts sharply with traditional outdoor ashtrays.

For a monthly fee, the start-up collects the cigarette butts and recycles them. They are transferred to a treatment plant in Mende, in Lozère, where they are recycled in partnership with TerraCycle. Cigarette butts are 100% recyclable: the ash, tobacco and paper are turned into compost while the plastic from the filter is re-used to make insulation boards for the construction industry, or industrial pallets. Finally, Cy-Clope produces a comprehensive report that demonstrates the value of the concrete and responsible action taken by the company.

This innovative concept, which has won numerous awards for Antoine Di Tommaso and Thibault Legrand, has already attracted interest from a number of companies and institutions: EMLYON, RSI, INPI, Saffron, Médiamétrie, etc. Located in Île-de-France and in the Rhône-Alpes region, Cy-Clope hopes to expand rapidly throughout France - and, why not abroad?