Environment

New 'Green' Cigarette Butts Biodegrade Within Days—And Can Even Sprout Into Grass

The company Greenbutts is manufacturing a new filter to address most common litter problem.

Photo Credit: Greenbutts

From the beaches of Beirut to the sidewalks of Brooklyn, cigarette butts are far and away the most common article of litter found throughout the world. Now a company called Greenbutts is manufacturing completely biodegradable filters that disappear within a few days of being discarded.

The "green" butts can even sprout into green grass or flowers when placed under a thin layer of soil. The company makes the butts using a a blend of cotton, hemp, and flax binded with a natural starch base. 

Most cigarette filters today are made from cellulose acetate, which, although technically biodegradable, can take up to 10-15 years to degrade. It is estimated that around four to five trillion cigarette butts are improperly discarded every year by over a billion smokers. 

Lawmakers around the United States are addressing the issue in similar ways: In Maryland this month, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General, Jon Cardin, is defending legislation that would outlaw the sale of cigarettes with non-biodegradable filters, and in California, Assemblyman Mark Stone from Sacramento is attempting to ban the sale of filtered cigarettes altogether. 

Of course, a reduction in the global smoker population would do even more to reduce butt littering, as well as alleviate associated public health crises. Tobacco companies have made this much harder to do in poorer countries, where they have used free trade laws to sue or threaten governments that consider instituting policies to reduce their smoking populations. 

More information about Greenbutts can be found on their website

 

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Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
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