Cigarette butts are the number one most littered item globally, with around 4.5 trillion littered each year. This problem costs many cities millions in cleanup costs as well as being a public health and environmental concern. In India, there aren't even any governmental programs to address the plastic waste.
Instead of lobbying to create a government program that would cost taxpayers, Indian entrepreneur Naman Gupta decided to create a business that recycles them, cleaning up the streets, and uses them to create new products. Using a human friendly chemical compound, the cigarette butts are separated, purified, broken down, and resused to create all kinds of products, from plush toys to beds to mosquito nets.
The company has only been around since 2016, but since then it has already made over $1 million and is hoping to expand interantionally to address the problem even further. They provide companies with bins for disposal of cigarrettes, particularly in high smoke traffic areas such as business boardrooms and cigarette vendor booths. When they are full, the companies can turn in the full containers for monetary reward. Gupta says his recyclying company provides three major benefits: the environment gets cleaner from the removed cigarette butts, the businesses and volunteers who bring the materials to the company get monetary incentive, and lastly the company itself creates jobs, even ones that can be worked from home.
Watch more below!