Cigarette butts are to be recycled into new plastic products under a scheme that aims to cut litter and landfill, it has been announced.
Smoking related rubbish is the most common form of litter, found at almost three-quarters (73%) of sites surveyed by anti-litter campaigners, and making up more than a third (35%) of the items of waste that have been dropped.
The new initiative will allow smokers to prevent some of the billions of non-biodegradable butts and other cigarette waste which go into the bin from ending up in landfill or as litter, the recycling company behind the scheme TerraCycle said.
The "Cigarette Waste Brigade" allows groups, workplaces, councils and individual adults to collect butts, ash, used and unused filters, rolling paper, inner foil packaging and outer plastic packaging and send them for recycling using free shipping labels.
Collected cigarette waste will be turned into plastic delivery pallets, with any remaining tobacco or paper being composted.
The initiative by the company, which turns hard-to-recycle products such as biscuit wrappers and baby food pouches into plastic materials and products ranging from watering cans to picnic tables, is being backed by Japan Tobacco International.
TerraCycle chief executive and founder Tom Szaky said the scheme had the potential to drastically reduce the amount of cigarette waste that was littered.
"At the same time it also provides a recycling solution for cigarette butts that have been properly disposed of in an ashtray but before the launch of this new cigarette waste recycling solution would have ultimately ended up in landfill," he said.
He urged individuals to sign up to the scheme, and to approach workplaces and public places with designated smoking areas in their communities to join.
"Pubs, bars, restaurants, shopping centres, train stations, airports and even local councils are exactly the sort of places that should be encouraged to sign up and recycle the cigarette waste that is being generated on their premises," he said.