On Monday, April 17, the Environment and Sustainable Affairs Committee gathered 15 participants to collect cigarette butts around campus as part of Earth Week.
Robby Abrahamian, water resources major and political science major, is chair of the Environment and Sustainable Affairs Committee and organized the litter pick up.
Smoking has been attributed to multiple human health issues, but what about the damage it causes to the environment?
“Cigarettes are really damaging to water and rivers,” Abrahamian said. “Now that the snow is all gone, it is important to get out there and collect as much as we can.”
Cigarette butts account for 38 percent of all of all highway litter in the United States.
Cigarette waste is not always considered a heavy source of litter, however, a little cigarette waste can go a long way.
All of that cigarette waste has a larger impact on the environment than expected. The filters of cigarettes are made of cellulose acetate which is a form of plastic that does not quickly break down.
In addition, 32 percent of the litter in storm drains is the waste from tobacco products according to a study done on litter in America.
In 2014, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point passed the Tobacco-Free Campus resolution which banned the use of tobacco products on campus.
The cigarette butt clean up has shown that the tobacco-free rule is not always enforced and people will still smoke and litter on campus.
However, according to Abrahamian, the number of cigarette butts collected this year is less than previous years.
Abrahamian estimates that all of the collected cigarette butts filled about half of a garbage bag, which is about half of the amount collected last year.
The cigarette waste will be sent to TerraCycle, a company that has found ways to recycle waste products that are deemed too difficult for recycling by most municipalities.
TerraCycle will melt the cigarette waste into a hard plastic which will be remolded into new industrial products, such as plastic pallets.