The Gupta brothers have developed a technology to recycle toxic cigarette butts into valuable materials. They use the Butts to make various products such as mosquito repellants, mattresses, soft toys, key chains, cushions and pillows. It is well-known that smoking is harmful to health, but did you know that cigarettes are the most littered item on Earth? Across the world, about 4 trillion cigarettes are discarded each year, with more than 100 billion cigarettes being dumped on the streets and elsewhere in India alone. While most of the cigarette disintegrates when burnt, what’s left behind are the cigarette butts.
The study found that one cigarette butt in a litre of water kills half the fish.
The cigarettes contain filters made of a plastic called cellulose acetate, which takes years to degrade. And as they do, microplastics are released into the soil and oceans. A recent study found that one cigarette butt in a litre of water kills half the fish. On a mission to combat this pollution, two friends from Noida, Naman Gupta, a Delhi University graduate and Vishal Kanet, an engineer, founded Code, a company that recycles cigarette waste into different products. After a party at a friend’s house in 2016, Vishal and Naman came up with the idea for the startup. Shocked by the amount of cigarette waste generated in a few hours, they decided to start recycling cigarette waste. After months of research, they came up with a way to clean and process the cellulose acetate of cigarette butts into valuable products and in July of the same year, they launched Code.
Code distributes VBins to street vendors to collect cigarette waste and ensure the vendors a rate of Rs 250 for a kilo of cigarette butts. The destruction, mainly ash, tobacco, paper and the filter, is then separated manually. The form and tobacco are converted into manure, and the filters are treated and then made into cushions, toys and mosquito repellents. Today, Code works in 250 districts across India. Gupta says, “In the coming five to ten years, we hope we can manage cigarette waste from all over India.