SIGN UP TO OUR FREE MELBOURNE-BASED COMMUNITY RECYCLING PROGRAM FOR CIGARETTE BUTTS
CigCycle is a community myco-cycling program for cigarette butts
Myco-cycling uses a strain of mushroom to break down cellulose acetate plastic in the cigarette butts.
Did someone say "free"?! As this program is funded by a grant from Sustainability Victoria, there is no cost to participate. If you love the program and want to continue after the initial phase concludes, then we can provide options to continue at that point.
If you are interested and eligible to participate, you will be provided with a 30 litre bin, as well as some Biogone snap-lock bags to collect cigarette butts in.
Instead of emptying ash trays and dust pans full of cigarette butts into general rubbish, you will empty them into a snap-lock bag and then seal the bag and put it in the bin.
Every 2-4 weeks (depending on how many bags you are collecting), one of our friendly team members will come in and take any bags with butts in them, clean the bin and provide some more empty bags. They will collect some basic data, but unless you have any feedback, there won't be any requirement to do anything else.
The bin is only 30 litres, so you'd only need a space that is 25 - 50 cm wide. We would recommend that you find a covered outdoor area with the other bins, but if you only have an indoor storeroom, then that should be sufficient. Although the bags are snap locked and there is a bin lid, there is a chance that the smells will escape, so we don't recommend you store it in the kitchen.
The program is taking registrations from 1st March 2023. It will conclude by January 31st 2024, however we would aim to collect the bins before Christmas, unless you really want to continue with it.
Of course. Although we have designed the elements so that there is only one extra step to get used to (putting the butts in the snap lock bag), if you find that you aren't collecting enough butts, need the space, or have just changed your mind, you can contact us and we will arrange the pick up of your bin. Naturally, we'd love to get your feedback if you choose to exit the program, so that we can learn in this trial phase.
Step 1 - Smokers deposit their cigarette butts into ash trays, as normal.
Step 2 - When collecting butts from ash trays, we suggest you wear gloves.
Step 3 - Place the butts into the provided snap lock compostable bags.
Step 4 - Place the snap lock bag in the provided 30 litre black CigCycle bin.
Step 5 - Your friendly CigCycle contact will come by regularly to clean and empty the bin, as well as collect valuable data and provide additional bags if needed. If your bin is more than half full, feel free to scan the QR Code, or simply call us to arrange a quicker pick-up.
Step 6 - Your butts are picked up and transported to our partner, Fungi Solutions. At the Fungi Solutions warehouse, the butts are weighed and tubbed.
Step 8 - The plastic butts are hydrated and then introduced to the mycelium cultures in moulds. Further research is then carried out to measure the properties of the by-product.
Note: If the by-product is not suitable to use as a composite material for any recycled content programs, then it may be used for further research. Any excess butts may be landfilled. Whilst this is not a perfect solution, it will be a less toxic waste stream and exist for a shorter time in landfill than if it were not remediated.
In the environment, fungi naturally encounter the plant component cellulose.
After global research, No More Butts found a local social enterprise, Fungi Solutions, that had done some preliminary work on this topic. The founder had observed that fungi could be trained to digest the cellulose acetate microplastic of the cigarette filter.
The fungi begin their digestive process by putting out fine webs of mycelium, with the roots spreading through the cigarette butt. The mushrooms excrete digestive enzymes as they move through places and break down food sources externally before bringing the nutrients into their systems. At the end of the process, the mushrooms will have eaten the microplastics in the cigarette butts’ filters, leaving behind a material that can potentially be used to create other products.
The key is convincing oyster mushrooms that cigarette butts are edible. The fungi systems dismantle the hydrocarbon bonds of some toxic components in the butts and render them non-toxic. This leaves the undigested heavy metals such as zinc, copper and lead. Research is continuing into possible methods of harvesting and utilising these metals, in the quest for a perfect circular system, to develop a clean material by-product from the process and create a recycling stream for responsible disposal of cigarette butts.
Photo credit: Emily Medbury, Nicefilm.co
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We recognise they have cared and maintained the beautiful environment for time immemorial. We would like to pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all Indigenous communities.
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