A team of researchers at RMIT have found a unique way to recycle cigarette butts, potentially solving the persistent problem that cities across the globe face in trying to clean up the 1.2 million tonnes of cigarette butt waste that is created annually. While we’re all aware of the health risks of smoking, cigarettes also cause harmful environmental pollution because of their low levels of biodegradability and ability to transmit toxic heavy metals into the environment.
The team, lead by Dr Abbas Mohajerani, have developed a solution to this growing problem: fired-clay bricks that use cigarette butts as an additive. Although only 1% of each brick, the addition of this waste product not only reduces the cost of the final product, it also produces a lighter weight brick and early testing shows enhanced insulation capabilities which is ideal for cooler climates and people looking to reduce their home’s carbon footprint. The manufacturing process also traps any toxic pollutants within the brick, preventing it from further affecting the environment.
One of the biggest benefits is the reduction of energy consumed during the manufacturing process, which is down up to 58% when compared to standard brick making energy consumptions. These bricks are not only cheaper to make due to their recycled waste product, they’re also reducing carbon emissions!
Mohajerani is eager to encourage widespread use of cigarette butts in brick production and had calculated that if 2.5 percent of the world’s annual brick production incorporated 1% cigarette butts into their bricks, they would completely offset global cigarette production.
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