TerraCycle, a Trenton-based company that specializes in the collection and repurposing of complex waste streams worldwide, has joined forces with Trenton Climate Corps, a grassroots initiative aiming to increase the sustainability and climate resiliency of the city, to recycle the world’s most littered item – cigarette butts.  

Founded by Isles, Inc., a community development and environmental organization, Trenton Climate Corps’ participation in TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Free Recycling Program is not only addressing the nation’s most commonly littered item but also reducing a form of potentially harmful plastic waste. Aware that cigarette butts do not decompose naturally due to their plastic filters, Trenton Climate Corps was eager to address the hazard they pose to sensitive wildlife habitats in nearby waterways including the Delaware River and areas downstream. By highlighting the connection between common street litter, like cigarettes, and the ongoing problem of marine plastic pollution, Trenton Climate Corps hopes to “kick ash” in Trenton. 

“Cigarettes are all over the place and easily get into streams and sewers,” said Trenton Climate Corps coordinator, Robin Lowe-Skillern. “The butts are hard to pick up but easy to put straight into a receptacle!”

Trenton Climate Corps strategically placed cigarette receptacles in four highly trafficked public areas or transition points. Two receptacles are stationed in Battle Monument Park, a third at the public Sensory Garden on the corner of Perry and Montgomery and a fourth behind the Civil Service building in the designated smoking area. 

One hundred percent of cigarette waste collected through the Cigarette Waste Free Recycling Program is shipped to TerraCycle for recycling. When processed, the paper and tobacco are separated from the filter and composted. The cellulose acetate-based filter is recycled into plastic pellets which can be used by manufacturers to make new products such as shipping pallets, ashtrays and park benches. As an added incentive, one dollar is donated to the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program for every pound of cigarette waste collected. 

Participating in TerraCycle’s Cigarette Recycling Program is the latest effort by the Trenton Climate Corps to grow their socially responsible environmental programs. In addition to introducing cigarette recycling, the non-profit also works with the support of The Corps Network towards empowering local youth through job readiness services, leadership and life skills development, and impactful programming designed to increase the City’s climate resiliency.

About Trenton Climate Corps

The work of the Trenton Climate Corps focuses on improving the climate resiliency of Trenton and its residents. We partner with a variety of organizations and groups to identify projects that can address the most pressing environmental issues in Trenton, focusing primarily on urban agriculture, stormwater mitigation, increasing and sustaining city trees, and community beautification. To learn more about the project or submit an application to join, visit www.isles.org 

About TerraCycle

TerraCycle is an international leader in innovative sustainability solutions, creating and operating first-of-their-kind platforms in recycling, recycled materials, and reuse. Across 21 countries, TerraCycle is on a mission to rethink waste and develop practical solutions for today’s complex waste challenges. The company engages an expansive multi-stakeholder community across a wide range of accessible programs, from Fortune 500 companies to schools and individuals. To learn more about TerraCycle and join them on their journey to move the world from a linear economy to a circular one, please visit www.terracycle.com.


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