Can we recycle 4.5 trillion cigarette butts?
09 July 2010
A recent study has revealed that a shocking 4.5 trillion cigarette butts pollute the environment worldwide every year.
Jun Zhao, a Ph.D. student at Xi'an Jiaotong University in China, and a team of scientists believe they may have found a way to put the butts to good use. Much like cans, bottles and paper, which are well known for their ability to be recycled, Jun believes the unsightly litter could join the list by being used to prevent steel from rusting.
The study, which is published in the American Chemical Society journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, shows that when the butts are submerged in water the extracts collected can work to inhabit corrosion.
The scientists suggest that this could help save millions of pounds that are spent on steel repair every year.
Nicola Peate from Keep Britain Tidy said: "It is fantastic to see someone thinking of creative solutions for the problem of litter.
"The number of butts dropped worldwide is shocking and something needs to be done about it.
"We are impressed that Jun Zhao is trying to find a way of utilizing litter so that it can stop polluting our streets, but ultimately it would be better if it was not dropped at all."