Cigarette Butt Pickup Program

A group in Vancouver is making a unique demand in regards to smoking. Rather than demand that people quit, West End Cleanup is demanding a province-wide deposit program for cigarette butts.

The group ran a pilot project on Sunday during the community’s Car Free Day. Working on a $500 budget with a grant from the Vancouver Foundation, the group offered a penny for every cigarette butt that was turned in. They successfully collected 52,000 butts in three hours and later collected an additional 8,000 with extra funds. In total, West End Cleanup collected 60,000 cigarette butts.

Volunteers like Miguel Araiza, a former smoker, picked up two pounds worth of cigarette butts in three hours, earning $11 for his effort.

The cigarette butts will be turned over to TerraCycle, an Ontario recycling company that turns discarded cigarettes into products including pallets.

West End Cleanup sees their proposed Cigarette Butt Pickup Program working the same way as bottle depots do. The system would reduce environmental hazards in exchange for money.

Miguel Araiza points out the social benefit to such a program as well suggesting that as a former smoker, he views cigarette butts as an advertisement for cigarette companies. By picking them up and recycling them, this means of advertising is eliminated.


TerraCycle Inc. was founded in 2001 by Tom Szaky, then a 20-year-old Princeton University freshmen. The company began producing organic fertilizer by packaging liquified “worm poop” in used soda bottles. Since then, TerraCycle has become one of the fastest-growing green companies in the world.

TerraCycle is a highly-awarded, international upcycling and recycling company that collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products and repurposes the material into affordable, innovative products. It is widely considered the world’s leader in the collection and reuse of non-recyclable, post-consumer waste.

Check them out online and find out what products you could be recycling!

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