In an effort to reduce cigarette litter and to keep butts out of landfills, the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island has joined TerraCycle’s cigarette waste recycling program. Cigarette butt litter may seem tiny, but it causes big problems. It’s not just unsightly; marine life and birds can mistake butts for food, and since most filters are made from plastic, cigarette butts don’t biodegrade, and can contaminate waterways and cause other negative environmental harm.
Signs posted around the aquarium grounds direct guests to a designated smoking area and butt receptacle which displays text informing visitors how the waste will be recycled. The aquarium collects the cigarette waste and ships it to TerraCycle, an innovative company known for recycling items commonly considered “non-recyclable.” The tobacco is separated and composted, while the filters are shredded and mixed with other recycled material and turned into plastic pellets, which are then used to create new products.
The NC Aquarium’s Green Team is constantly expanding ways the organization and guests can reduce landfill waste, including cigarette butt recycling, plastic film collection and new onsite recycling bins.