Our Towns

CityScape Helps Bring Cigarette Recycling Bins Downtown

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO — Youngstown CityScape, Green Youngstown and TerraCycle are forming a partnership that will improve the community’s environment by eliminating a major nuisance downtown: litter. Through the partnership, disposal containers for cigarette butts will be installed through the central business district.

Terracycle, a company specializing in recycling hard-to-recycle waste, offers a free cigarette butt recycling program that helps communities take steps toward reducing litter in their area while contributing toward the improvement of the human impact on the planet, including trash in the ocean, landfills and water systems.

“We just surpassed 100 million cigarette butts recycled,” said Brian Hanck, the strategic partnerships manager of Terracycle in New Jersey. “Youngstown will see less litter immediately, anywhere from a 10% to 90% reduction is to be expected.”

With the help of Terracycle, Youngstown CityScape and Green Youngstown are already seeing results. Their partnership began when Phil Kidd, associate director of Youngstown CityScape, led the Downtown Youngstown Partnership and they felt strongly about helping the litter situation in downtown Youngstown. Last year, the group installed several containers through downtown.

“Twelve [receptacles] were installed late last year to see how they’d go and they were very well utilized, so Green Youngstown wrote a grant to Make America Beautiful [cigarette litter prevention program] this year and was able to get funding for 24 more receptacles,” Kidd said. “We now have 36 throughout the downtown area, primarily located on Federal Street, Central Square and Federal Place. It’s been great.”

The boxes are maintained by CityScape staff and emptied weekly. Terracycle pays for all shipping, packaging and postage for the transfer of the cigarette butts. They are then able to make a profit by reshaping and forming the butts into plastic to sell to companies that make plastic products.

“It’s a win-win situation with this partnership,” said Kidd.

Receptacles are now being installed alongside parking meters with signs indicating that it is for recycling. Kidd emphasized the urgency of the pollution situation in our country, noting there is a floating trash island in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas. This is driving companies to create freighters large enough to collect and properly dispose of it in order to protect the oceans and sea life.

“A lot of that has to do with cigarette butts. The filters themselves are made out of plastic and plastic takes so long to biodegrade, and it breaks up into individual pieces, which is then ingested by sea life. This is our contribution to help that,” said Kidd.

Locally, throwing cigarette butts on the ground allows them to be easily washed into storm drains during periods of heavy rain, sending them into local waterways. If it’s not washed away, it piles up in cracks and corners along streets.

When it comes to the community’s involvement in helping keep Youngstown and the planet cleaner, Kidd urges citizens to pay attention to where the receptacles are downtown.

“Seek one of these out. You can’t go more than a quarter city block without running into one of the receptacles. They are readily available. We are seeking additional sponsorships from businesses because we want to add more of these. There’s going to be thousands more people downtown in the future and we want to get ahead of these issues,” Kidd said. “The goal is to cut down on it and make it a more manageable situation. We have already seen a big impact.”

Pictured: Youngstown CityScape associate director Phil Kidd with a new cigarette butt recycling container.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.