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Would You Ever Partner with a Cigarette Company?

Tom Szaky | Tuesday February 16th, 2010 | 6 Comments

Waste is a problem. We’ve been helping solve it, one piece at a time, via our collection brigades for years now. Literally billions of pieces, collected by millions of people each earning 2 cents donated to the charity of people’s choice. That translates into $100,000 a month in the US alone. And we’re currently in 5 countries, aiming for 10 this year.

So far we’ve been source agnostic about it, like the recycling companies do. We may be a green company, but that hasn’t meant we only take waste from companies with pristine eco records. And really, what company is completely perfect when it comes to being sustainable? If anybody claims to be so, I’m quite certain they’re lying or delusional.

But what would you say if I told you we were approached by a major cigarette company to partner with them in collecting cigarette butts, to be upcycled into new products? Makes you think, doesn’t it? What do you think about that? I’d like to hear.

And at the same time, our goal is singular – It’s to solve the problem of waste. If we were to be exclusionary in who we took waste from, it would be counterproductive to our bigger goal, and the broader benefit to us all: Reduced waste, and a greater amount of people having a different view of what’s possible. As we like to say, reduce, reuse, rethink. The current reality is that there are much more products outside then inside the green bubble, and their packaging isn’t going away any time soon. So I say, let’s do something about it!

But butts are a problem. Or are they?

Yes, there can be thorny issues when it comes to cigarettes. But let’s not confuse those with what we’re considering here. You may not like smoking and what it represents, but would you like to see the sea of butts collected and reused for a positive purpose? I thought so.

Even better, what if the proceeds from collecting butts went to smoking prevention/education/addiction addressing charities and organizations?

What if ashtrays everywhere were replaced with stylish collection devices that educated people on upcycling? Waste eliminated, and minds expanded, both on that end, and when people by products made from what’s been collected.

So, should we partner and create a “butt brigade”? If so, making what? If not, why not? I look forward to your feedback.


▼▼▼      6 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • Guest

    Would this be to help the tobacco industry become sustainable?

  • http://www.bigjobsboard.com/ bigjobsboard

    I think partnering with a cigarette company would be profitable. can you imagine earning $50000 a second with the tobacco industry? This rocks. But as a consequence more people wil die of lung cancer.

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  • matthsmith

    What about a smaller scale, less ethically complicated approach, like diving into the idea of partnering with government agencies as well as restaurants, bars and businesses to start a program that recycles butts. If successful, maybe this can be copied elsewhere and have a growing impact while keeping the hands of the program administrators relatively clean.

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  • http://www.adaptivereuser.com/ christine

    If there is an economically feasible way to recycle cellulose acetate filters, it seems that would supersede any possible objections to working with the tobacco industry. Apparently, buttons are made with cellulose acetate. Butts to buttons anyone?

  • Earthday78

    Responsible Smokers Act -Ashtrays from Cigarette Butts

    Hey Tom, We should talk asap, been working at this similar goal for 11+ years, would like to be a part of it.
    Mike Davis at: earthday78@cox.net

  • Earthday78

    Responsible Smokers Act -Ashtrays from Cigarette Butts

    Hey Tom, We should talk asap, been working at this similar goal for 11+ years, would like to be a part of it.
    Mike Davis at: earthday78@cox.net