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Aspinwall exploring program to recycle cigarette butts

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 3:12 p.m.
Aspinwall council is considering a program to clean the streets and recycle cigarette butts.
Aspinwall council is considering a program to clean the streets and recycle cigarette butts.

Aspinwall Councilwoman Marcia Cooper this month presented an idea that lit up the room — she wants the borough to participate in a cigarette butt recycling program.

Cooper is exploring the initiative through Terracycle, a New Jersey-based company that collects and repurposes hard-to-recycle waste.

“For every pound of debris collected, a dollar is donated to the group, Keep America Beautiful,” she said.

Founded in 2001 by then-Princeton University student Tom Szaky, Terracycle now operates in 20 countries on a mission to eliminate waste. From coffee pods to pop cans, the company diverts waste from landfills and transforms it into plastic pallets and other industrial items. More than $21 million has been donated to charities through the program, according to the company website.

If Aspinwall joins the recycling efforts, cigarettes would be salvaged from streets and instead melted into hard plastic and remolded. Tobacco would be used for compost.

Cooper said participating in the borough's Earth Day clean-up made it painfully clear that sidewalks near bars and bus stops are littered with butts.

“If it's as simple as placing recycling bins in the areas where cigarette debris is an issue, it's worth exploring,” she said.

The program is free to the borough. Cooper plans to review specifics of the program with the environmental services committee and possibly discuss it at the June 13 council meeting. Council meets at 7 p.m. at the municipal building, 217 Commercial Ave.

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Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or via Twiter @tawnyatrib.

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