- September 6, 2021
Submitted by: Matthew P. Doughney
Chief of Flagler Beach Police
According to the Truth Initiative, since the 1980s, cigarette butts have consistently made up 30 to 40 percent of all items collected in annual international coastal and urban cleanups. That means cigarettes have the distinction of being the most littered item on earth, with about 4.5 trillion cigarettes discarded each year.
The filters of cigarettes are made of plastic and are not biodegradable. The filters store enough nicotine, heavy metals and other chemicals from the cigarettes to kill fish and marine animals that live in the waters where the tossed butts release toxins. The city of Flagler Beach is no exception, and cigarette filters are the most prevalent item collected during monthly beach clean-up efforts.
In a proactive effort to address this issue in our city, Flagler Beach Commissioner Ken Bryan recently secured a grant to receive 75 metal receptacles from Cigarette Litter Prevention Program. The grant is administered by Jacksonville Beaches Go Green, a nonprofit part of Keep America Beautiful.
“I initially asked for 50 receptacles, but after explaining the areas of concern and describing how much cigarette trash we pick up during the city beach clean-up programs, I was given 75," Bryan said.
Volunteers are mounting the metal recycling boxes at numerous locations around Flagler Beach, to include the Pier entrance, boardwalk, city parks and local businesses. The recycling boxes are being installed at/or near waist height. Volunteers and city sanitation staff will empty the boxes into containers donated by the Turtle Shack Cafe.
Once they’re collected, the cigarette butts will be shipped to TerraCycle, a recycling company located in Trenton, New Jersey. TerraCycle has patented technology that recycles cigarette butts into plastic pellets used by manufacturers to build park benches, decking material and shipping pallets, among other items. GPS technology is being utilized by the city to assist in locating all the receptacles for follow-up disposal by the volunteers.
According to Litter in America, the Keep America Beautiful National study of littering behavior, shows that just one cigarette butt receptacle decreases the amount of cigarette litter by 9% in a respective area.
Flagler Beach joins a long list of communities participating in this innovative program, to include Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Gainesville, Florida.
On Nov. 18, Anne Marie Moquin, founder and head of Jacksonville Beaches Go Green, will be on hand at the Flagler Beach City Commission meeting to formally award the grant.
Look for the new receptacles in Flagler Beach and please encourage your smoker friends to use them. Keep Flagler Beach Clean: no ifs, ands or butts!
For additional information, contact Commissioner Ken Bryan at [email protected]