Cigarette Recycling at Bellevue College

With over 4.5 trillion of these littered each year, they can be found just about everywhere we look. What are they? Cigarette butts.

When cigarette butts end up on our sidewalks and in our parks, waterways, oceans, and even landfills, they can cause serious damage to water and soil quality as well as wildlife. They leach tar and nicotine, and animals, birds, and fish can ingest either polluted water or the butts themselves. The Ocean Conservancy reports that cigarette butts are the single most collected item during their cleanups and the Keep America Beautiful Campaign reports that butts comprise from 25% to 50% of all litter items collected from streets. That’s a lot of litter and a lot of environmental impact, but we have a solution for our campus.

Starting in November 2015, Bellevue College will be recycling cigarette butts through Terracycle. Terracycle is an upcycling and recycling company that accepts a variety of “hard-to-recycle” items, including cigarette butts, and turns them into new items. In the case of their cigarette program, they accept extinguished cigarettes, outer plastic packaging, inner foil packaging, rolling paper, ash, loose tobacco pouches, and cigarette filters. These items are recycled into industrial products like plastic pallets and any remaining tobacco is recycled as compost. The paperboard packaging can be put into regular recycling. Please dispose of trash and food in their proper receptacles, as it contaminates the cigarette waste and makes it harder to recycle. Official_TerraCycle_Logo

Not only does this help Bellevue College avoid sending cigarette waste to landfill, it is also completely free to do! If you would like more information or to start collecting at home, you can go to: or contact

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Barnes, R., Lum, K., Novotny, T., Smith, E., Wang, V. (2009). Cigarette Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste. Retrieved October 30, 2015 from

Beachapedia. (2015). Cigarette Butt Litter What’s The Problem?. Retrieved October 30, 2015 from

Jacobs, G. (2009). Cigarette Butts Toxic to Marine Life. Retrieved October 30, 2015 from

Terracycle. (2015). Cigarette Waste Brigade. Retrieved October 30, 2015 from

Last Updated October 30, 2015