N.J. company TerraCycle recycles cigarette butts into usable plastics

Kim Glovas
September 17, 2018 - 8:24 pm

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TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Approximately 4.5 million cigarette butts are thrown out each year. But now, one New Jersey company has created a way to recycle them into plastic. 

TerraCycle has been at the forefront of recycling post-consumer trash for decades. Recently, the Trenton-based firm has been taking cigarette butts and creating a new product. 

"We can actually run millions of pounds of cigarette butts and convert it into usable plastic," said Ernell Simpson, global vice president for research and development. "That plastic can be used for making the benches that you see in our recreation area there, as well as skids or pallets."

TerraCycle works with corporations that can afford to develop these recycling systems, he noted. 

Cedar Point Bar and Kitchen in Fishtown has a cigarette butt recycling post outside its front door. 

TerraCycle also created another innovative process to recycle fluorescent tube lights. Simpson explained that the glass is separated out and the mercury gas is shipped back to companies that still use that chemical in production. 

"We're in the forefront of this," he added. "We not only tell people how to recycle or do it ourselves, but we actually are teaching people globally how to take a look at recycling and do it properly."