Vancouver’s cigarette butt recycling program is drawing criticism from doctors who say that while the program is well intentioned, it is fundamentally flawed.
The recycling pilot project was launched last November with hopes of turning tobacco trash into something of value while ridding the streets of cigarette butts.
The idea when it launched was to guide smokers to 110 of the fire proof boxes placed on downtown streets.
The butts would then be recycled by TerraCycle Canada. The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
But now, many of the boxes are broken and others clearly aren’t being used, evidenced by the amount of cigarette butts on the street.
To fix the unsightly problem, a local doctor is proposing a deposit return program that will offer financial incentives for smokers.
“They would pay a dollar when they buy the pack… the dollar would be fully refundable on returning the pack with 20 cigarette butts,” said Dr. Stuart Kreisman.
But smokers say they don’t want to collect their stinky butts themselves for recycling.
While the idea has been proposed at city council in the past, the province instead has opted to raise cigarette taxes to deter smoking.
“Tobacco taxes are an important part of our comprehensive strategy to reduce smoking rates throughout the province. This strategy also includes programs to help prevent tobacco use in youth, programs to help people quit and legislation to protect the public from the dangers of second-hand smoke,” B.C.’s health minister Terry Lake said in a statement.
Kreisman plans to send his proposal to the province in the hopes they will step in to deal with the problem.
He said cleaner streets also means fewer triggers for people trying to quit smoking.