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Wilmington Aims to Curb Cigarette Litter

WILMINGTON –  Cigarette smoking is a declining trend in the U.S., but cigarette butts remain a litter problem here and across the globe. The countywide Keep New Hanover Beautiful organization, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful Inc., recently partnered with city officials on a cigarette butt recycling program aimed at diverting some of this waste from local waterways and streets and the landfill.

Keep New Hanover Beautiful volunteers plan to send cigarette butts collected in recently installed disposal canisters in the Wilmington area to TerraCycle, a free waste-collection and recycling facility. Photo: Keep New Hanover Beautiful

“When Keep New Hanover Beautiful approached me about this program, I was quite receptive to the idea of redirecting cigarettes from the landfill,” said David Ingram, Wilmington’s solid waste manager.

The city has installed 110 cigarette butt disposal canisters, hoping to catch the eye of smokers who may have become accustomed to tossing their butts to the curb. The city collects the discarded butts, and Keep New Hanover Beautiful volunteers mail them to TerraCycle, a free waste-collection and recycling facility. TerraCycle separates and melts parts of the cigarettes and packaging into rigid plastic that is repurposed into industrial products such as plastic pallets and building materials; the ash and tobacco are composted in a specialized process, according to TerraCycle’s website.

“During our monthly clean-ups, we saw we had a problem with the amount of cigarette butts littered around Wilmington, so we looked into options to divert this litter from our environment and our landfill,” said Dick Brightman of Keep New Hanover Beautiful.

At the current collection rate, the Keep New Hanover Beautiful Cigarette Litter Recycling Campaign expects to recycle more than 2,000 pounds of cigarettes within the first year.

Learn More

  • Keep New Hanover Beautiful
  • To get your business or organization involved, contact Dick Brightman at or call 910-762-5606.
About the Author

Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.