The GreenMinded association aims to generalize cigarette butt recycling in France.
One metric tonne of cigarette butts produces 650 kg of plastic!
You must have seen them this summer at the beach... Thrown carelessly next to a towel, or buried under the sand, cigarette butts then end up in the oceans where they are the third deadliest waste after fishing tackle and plastic bags. Just one small butt can pollute up to 500 liters of water! A major issue that is being tackled by the association GreenMinded created in Lille in 2016 by Alice Comble and Solène Cormont.
Supported by the Veolia Foundation, GreenMinded wants to develop cigarette butt recycling in France in preference to continuing to send them to landfill or incinerate them. GreenMinded offers various types of ashtrays for individuals, businesses and local authorities along with a turnkey recycling service. Its goal: for every individual, wherever they might find themselves, to be able to recycle cigarette butts just as is the case for glass, cardboard, plastic, etc.
It's a little known fact, but cigarette butts are made of plastic. More specifically, the white part of the butt that acts as a filter is made of cellulose acetate, a plastic - according to GreenMinded – that absorbs about four thousand toxic substances (including tar, arsenic and lead).
The association works with a French processing plant, MéGO! located in Brittany. The butts are sorted, sieved, cleaned with water (which is then recycled in a closed circuit). After decontamination, 8% of the butt biomass will be dealt with as hazardous waste. The clean fiber will be compressed and heated to very high temperature to obtain plastic sheets that can be engraved, cut and assembled. One metric tonne of cigarette butts produces 650 kg of plastic - used to make office or urban furniture, pencil pots, etc. And this plastic can itself be ground up again and recycled.
GreenMinded offers businesses and cities the opportunity to install ashtrays (terminals, airtight containers, etc.). It maintains them, collects the waste and ships it to a recycling plant. In parallel, the association is working on a "connected" offer, with the development of fun, smart, interactive kiosks.
The top of future connected terminals will have a question (such as "Are you happy today?" or "Cinema or Netflix?") which the user can answer when throwing in the cigarette butt.
In businesses, a mobile application will give smokers a report on their monthly cigarette consumption, as well as recommendations for quitting smoking. In the city, more smokers will recycle butts, plus they will earn points in a virtual nest egg. These points, converted into cash, can be redistributed to environmental protection or anti-smoking associations.
Recycling cigarette butts - an expensive process
GreenMinded is one of the (too few) actors wanting to create a proper recycling network for cigarette butts. But recycling 1 kg of butts costs €10. It’s an expensive process! The French government, however, plans to require tobacco companies to make a contribution to the costs of collecting and disposing of cigarette waste which would reduce the recycling-associated costs.
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