Estonian Company to Undertake Cigarette Butt Recycling
Containers for collecting cigarette butts will be placed in Tartu until mid-August, after which they will be sent for recycling for the first time in Estonia.
This news was reported by ERR.ee.
Cigarette butts are a serious problem worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, over 7,500 tons of cigarette butts end up in the environment each year.
Ines-Issa Villido, the founder of Filaret OÜ and the initiator of the cigarette butt collection boxes, mentioned that many people in Estonia may not realize that cigarette butts are a problem, but if you look down, you can see the extent—they are everywhere.
"According to the latest tobacco sales statistics, around 300 tons of cigarette waste is generated in Estonia each year. That's approximately a hundred trucks," Villido reported.
Filaret is the first company in Estonia to recycle cigarette butts. Villido believes that cigarette butts should be treated as a separate type of waste.
"One container can hold about 6,000 cigarette butts, which is roughly ten liters or one kilogram. From one kilogram of cigarette butts, we can obtain one kilogram of bioplastic. We have also used them to make filament for 3D printers," Villido explained.
In addition to recycling, Filaret also aims to reduce the amount of toxic substances entering the environment. According to Helen Orav-Kotta, an associate professor at the Estonian Marine Institute's Department of Marine Biology, cigarette butts degrade in nature within 10 to 20 years, depending on environmental conditions.
"During this entire time, the hazardous substances contained in cigarette butts slowly seep into the surrounding environment. It's only a matter of time before these chemicals, heavy metals, lead, acetate, and nicotine enter living organisms, such as earthworms," Orav-Kotta observed.
She also noted that when cigarette butts end up in water, there is a high risk of toxic substances entering humans and domestic animals through fish.
Cigarette butts are also associated with the risk of fires. Elari Kliiman, a prevention expert at the Liuna Rescue Center, reminded that throwing cigarette butts in general waste can lead to the ignition of other waste. From the beginning of last year until the end of May this year, firefighters extinguished 650 fires in waste containers.
"If people take this into account, it will reduce the risk of fires in containers. Dealing with container fires puts a significant burden on us, especially in urban areas," Kliiman said.
The containers for collecting cigarette butts will be in place in Tartu until mid-August, during which time the city center hosts numerous events.