recycling

File photo of a shopkeeper selling Four Square cigarettes at his shop in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Jan. 5, 2021. (Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

MOHALI, Punjab – Discarded cigarette filters—also known as  cigarette butts—are one of the most littered objects on earth and a major environmental pollutant. To deal with the problem, a Mohali-based company in Punjab has found a way to curb pollution by recycling cigarette butts.

Mohali-based entrepreneur Twinkle Kumar is recycling cigarette butts into toys, cushions, and mosquito repellents.

Kumar, who lost his job during the COVID-19 lockdown, told ANI he started watching YouTube videos to start some work.

"I got to know about the concept of cigarette recycling, and it intrigued me. I approached the company that was already doing this and learned the process. After that, I started my business in Mohali," he said.

To collect the raw material—discarded cigarette butts—Kumar's company has installed bins at commercial spaces with smoking zones.

He said that the company has also employed local women, who are engaged in the collection, processing, and conversion of butts.

"Barring initial hiccups, the response has been good. We are collecting the butts by installing collecting bins at all smoking zones in public places across the city. We then process and clean the butts chemically and remove the toxic components from them, after that they are used for toys, cushions, and mosquito repellents,” he added.

Cigarette butts are made of a plastic called cellulose acetate, which takes up to 10 years to degrade. When dumped in the environment, Kumar said they not only cause plastic pollution but also release nicotine and other chemicals they absorbed.

"Though people should not smoke at all, however, for all the people who are smoking cigarettes despite the health risks, we request them to discard the butts at the collection boxes we installed. This way, they not only help us but also help in reducing the environmental pollution," added Kumar.

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