City of Melbourne recycles cigarette butts

The City of Melbourne is one of two councils in Australia that is running a citywide initiative to recycle cigarette butts into industrial products.

The Council collects more than 200,000 cigarette butts each week from 367 cigarette butt bins across the city.

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and break down slowly. Studies have shown that of the four disposal routes for cigarette butts - recycling, litter, landfill, and incineration - recycling has the lowest global warming impact.

The City of Melbourne has partnered with Enviropoles, who collect the cigarette waste, and TerraCycle, who convert the butts into plastic products.

The project is funded through the Victorian Government's Litter Hotspots program.

The City of Melbourne recently placed a perspex box filled with 200,000 cigarette butts on the banks of the Yarra River to highlight the impact that littering has on streets and waterways.

Chair of the City of Melbourne's Environment portfolio Councillor Cathy Oke said the project has been completed in Vancouver and New Orleans before, but Melbourne is leading the charge in Victoria to tackle recycling cigarette waste. She said the City of Melbourne is installing more than 360 smart bins in the CBD following a successful trial of 17 bins last year.

"Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia. Butts are commonly mistaken for food by marine life and have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures," Cr Oke said

"We collect around nine million butts in our litter bins every year. We hope this project will motivate smokers to place their cigarette butts in one of the butt bins located around the CBD."

Previous surveys have found that around 10,500 cigarette butts from the central city are being deposited on the ground every day. The City of Melbourne spends approximately $13 million on waste services each year (collection and disposal).