Submitted by: Matthew P. Doughney
Flagler Beach Police Chief
According to the Truth Initiative, since the 1980s, cigarette butts have accounted for 30% to 40% of all items collected in the annual international coastal and urban cleanup. This means that cigarettes are the most littered item on the planet, and about 4.5 trillion cigarettes are discarded every year.
The cigarette filter is made of plastic and is not biodegradable. The filter stores enough nicotine, heavy metals, and other chemicals in cigarettes to kill fish and marine animals that live in the waters where cigarette butts release toxins. Flagler Beach City is no exception. Cigarette filters are the most common items collected during monthly beach cleanups.
To actively tackle this problem in our city, Flagler Beach Commissioner Ken Bryan recently received a grant from the Cigarette Waste Prevention Program to receive 75 metal containers. The grant is managed by Jacksonville Beaches Go Green, a non-profit organization "Keep America Beautiful."
“I initially asked for 50 containers, but after explaining the area of concern and describing the amount of cigarette trash we picked up in the city’s beach cleanup plan, I got 75,” Brian said.
Volunteers are installing metal recycling bins in many places around Flagler Beach, including dock entrances, boardwalks, city parks and local businesses. The recycling bin is installed at/or close to waist height. Volunteers and city health workers will pour the boxes into containers donated by the Turtle Hut Cafe.
The collected cigarette butts will be shipped to TerraCycle, a recycling company based in Trenton, New Jersey. TerraCycle has a patented technology that can recycle cigarette butts into plastic pellets, which are used by manufacturers to make park benches, decorative materials, and transport trays. The city is using GPS technology to assist in locating all containers so that volunteers can carry out follow-up processing.
According to Litter in America, Keep America Beautiful National's research on littering behavior shows that only one cigarette butt container can reduce the number of cigarette butts in the corresponding area by 9%.
Flagler Beach has joined a long list of communities participating in this innovative initiative, including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Gainesville, Florida.
On November 18th, Anne Marie Moquin, founder and principal of Jacksonville Beaches Go Green, will attend the Flagler Beach City Council meeting and formally award the grant.
Look for new containers at Flagler Beach. Please encourage your smoking friends to use them. Keep Flagler Beach clean: no ifs, no butts!
For more information, please contact Commissioner Ken Bryan at [email protected].
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