BCITSA’s Cigarette Recycling Program

Over the past two years I’ve been working on a co-initiative with the Facilities and Campus Development (FCD) Department at BCIT. The cigarette butts recycling program initiative is a great example of collaboration and perseverance between BCITSA’s Executive-Student leaders and BCIT’s faculty to bring forward sustainability initiatives. Together with the manager of Transportation and Grounds department-FCD, Adam Dickinson, we’ve designed a program to increase awareness of large product waste. The program highlights environmental-pollution reduction and the repurposing of cigarette waste.

You’ll be able to find the recycling program receptacles distributed across the Burnaby campus. The black standing poles are containers designed to hold cigarette waste which is later collected by the FCD and shipped to a recycling facility in Ontario for processing. The cigarette butts are separated into paper, filter, and residual tobacco. The un-compostable ingredient part of the filter is a synthetic fiber called cellulose acetate. The cellulose acetate is formed into pellets, combined with other plastic compounds, and molded into reusable trays. 

This initiative is focused on reducing litter on campus and repurposing waste, but it’s not the only benefit of the program. Terra-cycle, the recycling facility in Ontario, provides its members with donation money to a local non-profit. For every 3lbs recycled using the Cigarette Butts Recycling Program, our operation receives one donation dollar back. The recipient of the donations will be a Canadian non-profit determined by BCITSA’s Equity and Sustainability Committee.


BCITSA’s Cigarette Recycling Program

Why do we need your help in recycling cigarette butts?

According to a study done between 1998 – 2018, cigarette butts are the most abundant form of plastic. Six trillion cigarettes are consumed annually and 4.5 trillion (75%) of those cigarettes become litter. With new technologies, we can now repurpose the synthetic cellulose plastic waste and reduce our environmental impact.

How can you help in recycling cigarette butts?

If you are a smoker, please dispose of butts at the nearest cigarette receptacle pole. If you don’t smoke, please share your knowledge of our new recycling program to your peers. You are also invited to recommend a Canadian non-profit organization that will receive the future donations by emailing us at VPequity@bcitsa.ca


Araújo, Maria Christina B., and Monica F. Costa. “A Critical Review of the Issue of Cigarette Butt Pollution in Coastal Environments.” Environmental Research. Academic Press, February 4, 2019. sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935119300787. 

“Unsmoke Cigarette Waste Recycling Program.” TerraCycle. Accessed November 2, 2021. terracycle.com/en-CA/brigades/cigarette-waste-en-ca