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Keep America Beautiful’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program plans to offer 50 grants to local governments and organizations.
After successful ventures across cities in Massachusetts and Louisiana, Keep America Beautiful recently announced a national grants program for an innovative program to recycle discarded cigarette butts.
The 2015 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program will offer 50 grants, totaling $275,000 to local governments, park and recreation areas and private ventures including business improvement districts and downtown associations.
The grant winners will be announced at the end of February.
“It’s essential to reduce cigarette litter to lessen the environmental harm this common type of litter places on our landscapes and waterways,” Jennifer Jehn, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful, said in a statement. “Our Cigarette Litter Prevention Program is making a significant difference in communities where the program is being implemented because of public education in tandem with access to receptacles.”
Discarded cigarette butts are a significant contributor to local litter and pollution challenges. A 2009 study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health estimates that littered butts account for 1.7 billion pounds of environmental waste each year.
Since nearly all cigarette filters contain plastic—cellulose acetate—the butts accumulate over time, creating large amounts of physical waste. According to KAB, cigarette butts account for 38 percent of all litter. The main problem, according to the organization, is that most cigarette smokers do not think of discarded cigarettes in the same sense as other forms of litter, like empty packaging or other discarded trash bags.
Previous efforts at litter reduction have exclusively focused on lowering the total number of smokers through taxes and other disincentives. However, in an announcement released on Monday, CLPP reported that since the program first launched in 2002, there has been a 48 percent reduction in cigarette litter. Last year alone, CLPP expanded to 130 grant-supported litter reduction programs across the country.
In some areas, cigarette litter recycling can actually be profitable for cities. As reported previously by GovExec State & Local, companies such as New Jersey-based TerraCycle are paying cities like Salem, Massachusetts, for their recycled butts.
In order to track litter-reduction efforts, CLPP closely monitors programs in newly launched areas.
Typically, cigarette litter reduced by about half during the first six months of a program. In 2013, 100 new CLPP programs experienced an average cigarette litter decline of 43 percent. Those communities that maintain their programs typically have seen a sustained level of success, with their litter-reduction programs improving by an additional 34 percent in 2014.