Man starts cigarette butt recycling effort
BETHLEHEM — Conrad Kubiak, an environmentally conscious smoker, hates the sight of cigarette butts littering sidewalks, parking lots and roads.
“It makes me sick,” he said.
So the well-known drum vendor, a regular at Musikfest and Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, is taking matters into his hands. The merchant is collecting cigarette butts in sand-filled buckets this year at the popular holiday market so that they can be recycled into plastic lumber, shipping pallets, lawn furniture and ash trays.
“The idea of plastic lumber really resonates with me because I'm a woodworker,” he said. “Instead of covering the beach with cigarette butts, we can build the boardwalk with plastic lumber made out of cigarette butts. How cool is that?”
Kubiak has placed four buckets in the outdoor smoking areas of Christkindlmarkt with a sign that says, “Make your butt useful.” Smokers have responded, and the buckets were brimming with butts last week.
Kubiak will send the butts he collects to Terra-Cycle, a Trenton, N.J., company that specializes in finding ways to recycle items that previously were only sent to landfills. It started the cigarette recycling initiative in the United States last month, company spokeswoman Lauren Taylor said.
“We worked for more than a year to find a solution for recycling cigarette butts because they are the world's most littered item and account for 38 percent of all U.S. roadway waste,” Taylor said.