Elon Musk Is Not The Only One, These Indian Youngsters Are Recycling Cigarette Butts And Paying The Collectors Too

Saicharan Palakurthi

Smoking is one of the most deadly habits one can have, yet the toughest one to let go off. But, how about the wastage we produce after smoking a cigarette? Is there any waste actually?

We smoke the whole tobacco part and of course, there’s not much of it left, as the rest is filter. But, yes! this part of the cigarette that is left is now recycled by the two innovative Indians in Noida. They are providing the V-Bins to drop in the cigarette butts and they’re recycling the collected material.

Isn’t this interesting! now, this roughly sounds like India has its versions of Elon Musks. In addition to this, these youngsters are paying the collectors too.

On the whole, cigarette butts can now be recycled in India instead of adding to waste pile-up and environmental degradation. Studies have shown that cigarette butts are the most discarded waste around the world, with about 5.6 trillion cigarettes are sold each year out of which half are discarded. Just the city of Bengaluru suffers a burden of 3.1 million cigarette butts.

The ideology behind this triggered when the two young minds Naman Gupta and Vishal Kant noticed a large number of spent cigarette butts leftover after weekend parties and decided to form a startup named ‘CODE’ to recycle them.

This duo entitled their project under the CODE initiative, in which members are provided with steel garbage bins worth Rs 99 for 3 months or Rs 499 for 5 years. Cigarette butts are put in these bins, which are then collected every 15 days. Members are paid Rs 800 for collecting each kilogram of cigarette waste. CODE started its initiative in mid-2016 and has about 70 members in Noida.

After collecting the waste, then it will be taken for recycling, where chemicals are added to tobacco and paper to convert them to compost. Similarly, after the cigarette ash is collected in huge quantities, it is used to make fly ash bricks. About 1 ton of ash is required to convert it to bricks. The filter is cleaned and reused, however, CODE aims to make air filters using the filter material.

Till now, the duo has collected about 10 kg of waste, which would otherwise clog the drains and add to water and air pollution. Collecting this waste actually helps to curb down smoking as at the end of the day, people can see in their bins how much they have smoked and it increases self-awareness about smoking as a bonus.

When asked about the project, the 22-year-old Naman said:“We saw the real problem with cigarette waste for the first time about a year ago – none of us were thinking about how to

“We saw the real problem with cigarette waste for the first time about a year ago – none of us were thinking about how to dispose of the butts wisely, many people here don’t even know that a cigarette filter is made of plastic and not cotton. And when carelessly disposed of, it can remain in that form for years.”

Meanwhile, Vishal (25) is an engineer by profession and has also worked as a professional photographer for about two years. Naman is a graduate from Delhi University. They are equally enthusiastic about environment conservation aspects.

“We also get small amounts of ash in the waste. While we have been able to collect just 200 gm of ash till now, we plan to convert it into fly ash bricks once we have the required quantity. As for the filter, we plan to use it for making the stuffing for toys and cushions, other than packaging and building material. In the long run, we also plan to research and use the filter for manufacturing air purifiers,” says Naman, adding that the treated filter is 99.9% safe for use.

“We treat the filters with our chemicals and get the end product checked in labs approved by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) before it can be used as a stuffing material” he concluded.


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