Can You Flush Cigarette Butts? (And Can They Be Recycled?)

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Smoking is a prevalent thing among different people. While many people have various reasons and appetite for smoking, there is one thing everybody agrees on. And that is the fact that cigarette butts are useless after smoking. 

Yes, what else do you need them for? Nothing!

This makes you want to get rid of it quickly. Most times, you tend to dispose of your cigarette butts in the toilet, on the streets, or in the garden. Unfortunately, this has significant implications for you and the environment. 

We are sure you want to find out the implications of tossing a cigarette butt in the toilet. We are also very much prepared for you. 

In this post, we take you through your major habits with cigarette butts and tell you the implications. Let’s go.

Is It Okay To Flush Cigarette Butts? 

Many people are in the habit of emptying their cigarette ashtray in the toilet. Yes, the ash will easily dissolve when it comes in contact with water. However, the cigarette butt does not dissolve for a long time. 

This way, cigarette butts continue to pile up in your toilet pipes. Eventually, they become big enough and clog the toilet. This obviously would create problems for your drainage system and make you spend the money you never budgeted on fixing the toilets. Hence, it is NOT advised to flush cigarette butts down the toilet.

Besides, cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals that will leach into the water and contaminate it. They leach nicotine and some heavy metals to the water. 

The worst part of it is that as time passes, cigarette butts turn into microplastic pollutants. Manufacturers make them with cellulose acetate [a kind of non-degradable plastic]. So, when you flush them down your toilet, you are harming the environment.

In this season, where water scarcity is becoming a big thing, you should also consider the water you are wasting each time you decide to flush down a cigarette butt.

The bottom line is for you to refrain from flushing cigarette butts down the drain. Help the environment, and save yourself from spending a lot to fix your drainage system.

Are Cigarettes Butts Biodegradable? 

One way to show concern for the environment is always to check if your product is biodegradable. Let’s take a look into whether cigarette butts are biodegradable. 

Cigarette butts come from plastic materials which do not readily biodegrade. They take a LOT OF TIME before they degrade. 

In many cases, they end up in the landfill for a very long time. On average, a cigarette butt takes between eighteen months and ten years before it degrades. Some even don’t degrade totally. They merely reduce into microplastic and continue to cause harm to the environment.

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So, next time you take a puff. And you are about to discard the cigarette butt through the window or on the street, remember how long they take to degrade. This would give you a picture of what effects they have on the environment.

Can Cigarette Butts Be Composted? 

On whether you can compost cigarette butts, there is still no settled answer to it. While some researchers say you can, others are very much against the idea of putting cigarette butts in your compost bin.

The more popular opinion, however, is to ABSTAIN from putting cigarette butts in your compost bin. This is because it would take a very long time before it decomposes in the compost bin. 

Besides, cigarette butts contain nicotine, heavy metals, and some other chemicals. If you put cigarette butts in your compost bins, the chemicals will leach. 

They will kill the micro and macro organisms that help your compost. If they don’t kill the compost bin’s microorganisms, and they finally compost, the compost manure may be unsafe for your garden plants. 

Well, you already know why. So the best bet is to avoid these toxic chemicals that come with cigarette butts.

Can Cigarette Butts Be Recycled? 

It seems that so many problems come with cigarette butts. It doesn’t decompose quickly. It also seems you can’t compost it without having doubts about your compost bin. So what do you do now? You have to consider recycling cigarette butts. 

The good news, first of all, is that you CAN recycle cigarette butts. So, relax, you can make your useless cigarette butts into another useful thing for society.

Recycling cigarette butts require some intensive recycling processes. First, you have to gather everything and bag them. This way, you have them available when the recycling company comes around to pick up recyclables.

The recycler would process the cigarette butts at the recycling center by removing and composting any remaining tobacco left on them.

After this, the recycler heats the cigarette butts at very high temperature and shred them in pieces. After shredding, the recycler adds the shredded materials with other plastic materials that are up for recycling. This seems to be the last part before the shredded cigarette butts get recycled to make new materials.

So, do not get worked up over the harm your cigarette butts will do to the environment. You just have to stop tossing them around. Start gathering them and preparing to recycle them. 

Can You Flush Tobacco Pouches?    

Flushing tobacco pouches may sound like a great idea to you probably because they look tiny and feel like paper when you touch them. 

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So, you think there can’t be any problem if you pour some in your toilet and flush them down. Let’s shock you. There is a SIGNIFICANT PROBLEM if you flush your tobacco pouches. 

If you don’t know this, many tobacco pouches come from leather. Others that don’t come in leather form come in soft plastic or polythene wraps. This is so that the tobacco can remain fresh and last longer.

Flushing any of these does not sound like kids play in your toilet. They would not disintegrate fast in the water. They can gather for weeks until they are plenty enough to cause a clog in the toilet pipes. 

So, you also want to avoid them.

Are Cigarette Butts Bad for the Environment? 

The answer to this is in the affirmative. Yes, cigarette butts are a TERRIBLE IDEA for your environment. 

Yes, we understand that you can’t possibly quit smoking now. However, that doesn’t change the environmental damage that cigarette butts cause. So, how does this occur?

Here’s what you need to know. 

Manufacturers make cigarette butts with soft plastics known as cellulose acetate. They are non-degradable. If they become degradable, they take thousands of years before they do that. Asides from this, cigarette butts also contain nicotine, heavy metals, and some toxic chemicals. Cigarette butts also inhibit plants’ growth by significantly reducing the germination and stem length of plants. 

Now, if you are in the habit of tossing your cigarette butts through your car windows, on the street, or flushing them, you release the chemicals. And, even worse, materials that won’t degrade quickly. So, yes, that’s a significant cause of harm. 

Also, cigarette butts are made in a way to absorb the toxins in the cigarette smoke and collect tar. To slow down the burning rate of the cigarette, manufacturers add chemicals to the cigarette wraps. 

Some even use calcium carbonate to whiten the cigarette wraps. Then, while smoking, the cigarette butt takes up all these chemicals. Though looking small, the cigarette butt is toxic.

When you throw them out carelessly, they find their way into the marine environment. And this causes significant water pollution. They release toxic chemicals, stay in the water for years, and harm aquatic lives. 

If you think this is a joke, you only need to understand the number of cigarette butts released each year. For instance, many beach cleaners have said one of the top things they clean up in beaches is cigarette butts. So, cigarette butts are a cause for alarm, environmentally. 

The effects of cigarette butts on public health are also alarming. They contribute to environmental pollution. For those that end up in landfills, they are also not degradable. Hence, they will litter the environment for years.

Cigarette butts are also great at starting fires. If you toss them in dry places, there is the possibility that it could one day be the cause of a major fire outbreak.

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So, you see, the cigarette butts you toss carelessly in your surrounding is affecting the environment. It would be best if you watch out for how you dispose of your cigarette butts.

Safe and Alternative Ways to Dispose of Cigarettes Butts

Disposing of cigarette butts may look very easy to many, but there is more to just tossing them in the bin. Because cigarette butts are toxic to the environment, you have to learn how to dispose of them properly. 

First, you have to ensure that there’s no more light on the cigarette butts. This is very important to prevent a fire from starting. We have highlighted cigarette butts to be one of the significant causes of fire outbreaks across the country. So, pay attention to this.

Next, you have to get yourself a small cigarette collector where you can always put your cigarette butts each time you smoke. Place the cigarette collector where you can easily access it. This way, you don’t have to start looking for it each time you need it. 

You can put one in your car too. When you do, you won’t have to toss your cigarette butts out to the street through your car window.

Now, once you fill-up your collector, you can pour the content into a paper bag or a plastic bag. You can repeat this cycle until the paper bag or plastic bag is almost full. Then, you can seal or tie it before placing the bag in the disposable bin.

Since cigarette butts can be recycled, the good thing to do is to confirm with your local recycling center. Suppose it accepts cigarette butts for recycling, you can ask for a free pick up of your bagged cigarette butts. Other recycling companies even pay you per pound for the cigarette butts you deliver. 

So, begin to gather your cigarette butts now. You can save the environment from the toxic it releases by disposing of it properly. You can also get some money by offering to recycle it. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know what’s up with your cigarette butts. Just so you stay safe, here are what to remember. 

Don’t flush it down the toilet; it might clog your drainage. Please don’t throw it out through your car window or drop it on the streets. 

Also, always remember to put it where it would be easy to collect, like a cigarette collector. Remember that these cigarette butts are tiny. So, if you place them carelessly, they could get easily blown away by the breeze. 

With this, you can help keep the earth safe.

References:

http://www.longwood.edu/CLEANVA/cigbuttbiodegradable.htm#:~:text=Are%20cigarette%20butts%20biodegradable%3F, as%20other%20forms%20of%20plastic

https://www.calgary.ca/uep/wrs/what-goes-where/cigarette-butts-ashes.html?DCSext.w_wgw=aToZ#:~:text=Never%20flush%20cigarette%20butts%20or,the%20pipes%20in%20your%20home

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.