Looking back: Cigarette Litter Recycling Campaign 2017

January 13, 2018




Where It All Began


Early in 2017, KNHB board members sat in a meeting room designed like something you'd find within Google's headquarters: surrounded by white boards, hints of orange, and a canvas print of a cow's portrait.  Tayloe Gray Media creates marketing solutions, they are "experts in awesome," and willing to help small nonprofits.  That's us!  In dire need of re-branding, a project and fresh ideas to better the community.


In this place, Tayloe/Gray's meeting room, is where our plan to collect and recycle cigarette butts began.  We knew a few things: no one else in Wilmington was talking about recycling cigarette litter, and it wasn't likely they would start.  Let's face it, a used cigarette butt is gross and people aren't lining up to deal with the world's number one littered item; lucky for us.  We discussed the ins and outs of recycling cigarette litter, decided on a strong name, and "went for it."  


Now entering 2018, looking back, things have worked out beautifully.  Keep New Hanover Beautiful's Cigarette Litter Recycling Campaign 2017 includes more than 15 partners, a lot of recycled cigarette litter and a rebirth of KNHB.  A group now inspired to keep the momentum going, only after one year!  There's a lot to celebrate.


With the help of hardworking partners including Cape Fear River Watch and New Hanover County's Environmental Management the program will continue to grow. 

Across New Hanover County here's where you'll find cigarette litter canisters​:


  • Wilmington International Airport (ILM) has 10 canisters.

  • Cape Fear Games in the Anderson Square Shopping Center has 2 canisters. 

  • The Sour Barn has 3 cigarette canisters. 

  • Broomtail Brewing has 2 canisters. 

  • Tayloe/Gray Media has one. 


We are currently working with Wrightsville Beach who has agreed to install 10 of our new, easy-to-empty canisters to replace existing steel canisters.  Also, New Hanover County Property Management has agreed to install 3 of our canisters in a pilot project.




How it works?


If you or your company is interested in installing cigarette litter canisters, we're happy to work with you.  It's simpler than you can imagine!  Once canisters have been installed by KNHB, the location is added to our weekly pick up route.  Our volunteers collect, package and ship the butts to TerraCycle.  A company in New Jersey that recycles the litter into hard plastics and adds remaining tobacco to compost materials.  This prevents the cigarette litter from taking space in the landfill.  Still, perhaps the biggest hurdle is keeping the butts from being tossed to the curbside.  With more canisters across our community, less butts will end up as litter, possibly harming wildlife or curious toddlers, and polluting waterways.


Latest stats

Holy cow! Do you have an idea what 300 pounds of cigarette butts looks like?  We are striving to collect 1 ton, or 2,000 pounds.

 On behalf of Keep New Hanover Beautiful, I'd like to deeply thank our partners and volunteers.  Without your Many Thanks!


On behalf of Keep New Hanover Beautiful, I'd like to extend our deepest gratitude to our partners and dedicated volunteers, without whom our efforts would not be possible.


Katie Bradley

Board Member, Keep New Hanover Beautiful





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