NY May Create Cigarette Butt Recycling Program

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A cigarette butt in the snow

According to DenDekker's office, more than 176 million pounds of cigarette butts are discarded each year in the U.S. Photo: Flickr/ alfstorm

New Yorkers may have to start paying an extra penny for every cigarette they purchase.

Michael DenDekker, New York City assemblyman, has proposed a bill to establish a cigarette butt recycling program in the Empire State, funded by a deposit program similar to bottle bills already prevalent around the country.

At first striking DenDekker as laughable, the idea came to him when a constituent arrived at his office and made the suggestion.

According to the New York Times, a bit of online research led DenDekker to find that there are a number of innovative cigarette recycling projects in the works around the world.

DenDekker is no stranger to cigarette litter himself, having smoked for 30 years. However, this time has not made him sympathetic to the added costs of the bill for people who smoke. “I’m sorry, but look at the amount of waste that cigarette butts cause in our cities,” he tells the Times.

However, he does not look at the initiative as a way to penalize smokers. “There are two reasons to do it,” he said. “One is to create jobs, the other is to clean our environment a little.”

The fee would add 20 cents to each pack of cigarettes, but may save the state more cash in the end. According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB), littering costs the U.S. $11.5 billion every year. Not included in this estimate are the indirect costs of littering, including decreases in property values, commerce and tourism, as well as adverse health effects.

KAB also found that cigarette butts comprise 38 percent of all items littered on highways, streets, parks and playgrounds.

Read more:
Scientists Use Cigarette Butts to Block Corrosion
Could Cigarette Butts Lower Your Home Energy Use?
Litter Costs the U.S. $11.5B Annually

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