Franklin’s 100,000 butt challenge is on!
The innovative recycling program for cigarette butts and other smoking-related litter kicks off June 1 in Franklin and project organizers want 20 local businesses to hand them their butts.
The Cigarette Waste Brigade, brainchild of international recycling company TerraCycle, began recycling the difficult-to-manage waste in late 2012. Their partnership program is offered locally by Water City USA, a nonprofit dedicated to clean water in Middle Tennessee, and a Tennessee Department of Transportation special litter grant.
“With a 23 percent smoking rate in Tennessee, and nearly a dozen cigarettes per person as the daily average, Franklin residents may be generating as many as 44 million cigarette butts each year,” said Mark Thien, Executive Director of Water City USA.
According to Keep America Beautiful, as many as 85 percent of all cigarette butts are discarded improperly as litter. Rain carries the majority of Franklin’s cigarette butts into nearby gutters and storm drains. From there, they make way to the creeks, streams and water systems that feed the Harpeth River.
“Fish, frogs and other aquatic life do best with clean water, not cigarette waste,” Thien said. “Franklin business leaders understand this, so we anticipate strong participation in Williamson County.”
The program seeks 20 Franklin businesses for a simple proposition. Business would collect workplace cigarette waste then ship it free-of-charge via program partner UPS. In exchange, partners will receive a stylish stainless steel, tamper-proof and weather resistant ash can, public recognition for participating, workplace fliers and a seminar to help green-focused businesses promote the clean water cause.
Franklin’s cigarette butts will be recycled into injected-molded plastic shipping pallets. The no-cost program seeks 100,000 butts by Dec. 31.
Nearly half a million cigarette butts have been shipped under Water City USA’s lead. Interest grows because the program redirects sensitive workplace conversations about smoking toward more inspiring discussions about recycling and community improvement. Thien said it’s easy to support something free and good.
A $29,500 Special Litter Grant awarded by the TDOT Beautification Office will help fund the Franklin effort.
“Cigarette butts, which are not biodegradable, account for 38 percent of all U.S. roadway litter so this is an important program for us,” said Mark McAdoo, program manager for TDOT. “Water City USA is doing a nice job with this in Nashville, and we're happy to help it expand.”
Water City USA is one of 15 community and non-profit groups to receive a grant for special litter pickup and prevention projects that might not happen through regular Litter Grants.
Franklin businesses interested in the non-profit’s cigarette waste recycling program are encouraged to email Butts@NashvilleH2o.org. The organization can be found at Facebook/NashvilleH2O, Twitter.com/ NashvilleH2O or online at WaterCityUSA.org.