Photos by Michaela Kwoka-Coleman.
The City of Long Beach took new measures to curb littering and promote recycling by unveiling the first cigarette butt waste receptacle of the Can Your Butts program at Gallagher’s Pub and Grill on Broadway Friday afternoon.
Second District Councilmember Jeanine Pearce, Director of Public Works Craig Beck, Bureau Manager of Public Works Environmental Services Diko Melkonian and owner of Gallagher’s Ciaran Gallagher were on deck to unveil the receptacle.
“Having business owners like [Gallagher] that are stepping up and taking responsibility for [litter] is one of the things that makes Long Beach so great,” Pearce said.
Twenty-five receptacles will be given to 33 businesses along Broadway during the first phase of the program, officials said. The goal is to educate restaurants, bars and other businesses on how to reduce cigarette litter.
“Nobody wants to walk down the street and see butts lining our street,” Pearce said. “We know that if tourists come to our city we want them to say ‘Oh Long Beach is a clean city,’ we want to see people recognize us for that effort.”
For businesses that participate in the program, once a receptacle is full, owners will ship the waste to Terracycle, a free program that recycles cigarette waste. Once the shipment is received, the cigarettes are separated and the filters are melted into hard plastic which can be used to make recycled industrial products.
Additionally, the ash and tobacco are turned into compost.
Pearce said that the city council hopes to expand the program to other areas with lively restaurant and bar scenes such as Second Street, Fourth Street and Pine Avenue.
Cigarette butts, which are not biodegradable, can leak toxic chemicals into the environment, causing particular harm for children, animals and other wildlife if ingested.
“Cigarette litter has a negative impact on Long Beach businesses, tourism, and ecosystem,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “By educating businesses and providing resources to dispose of cigarette butts we are cutting down on litter and also improving the quality of life for our City’s residents.”
According to city data, 65 percent of cigarette butts become litter and tobacco products comprise one-third of all litter found on roadways, public spaces, beaches and waterways.
Cleaning up cigarette litter costs the state $419 annually. It was not disclosed how much the receptacles will cost.
Melkonian said that cigarette butts are one of the most common trash items that are picked up during cleanup events.
The Terracycle program accepts extinguished cigarettes, cigarette filters, loose tobacco pouches, outer plastic packaging, inner foil packaging, rolling paper and ash.
To request a waste receptacle for your business, visit the Can Your Butts website.