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December 4, 2014

Portland businesses take part in anti-cigarette butt campaign

Portland wants to kick a habit of tossing cigarette butts onto sidewalks and streets.

Business leaders, city officials and environmental groups were slated get together Thursday to unveil a slew of "Sidewalk Buttlers" to give smokers a way to dispose of cigarette butts.

The buttlers are installed on posts and polls in 70 locations around the city. Installation of the buttlers, which cost $59 apiece, was paid for by donations from businesses and organizations.

The effort was driven by Mike Roylos, owner of Spartan Grill at 24 Monument Way.

"With a one-time cost of $59 each, this is a small price to pay to help keep our city and waterways clean," said Roylos.

With the effort, Portland joins New Orleans, London and Vancouver, B.C., in taking action to control cigarette waste, which makes up more than one-third of roadside litter and contains chemicals like arsenic and benzene, according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

"Today we are announcing a step to begin to address cigarette butt litter in Portland," said Sarah Lakeman, NRCM's sustainability expert. "Cigarette butts are more than unsightly: They don't biodegrade and they do contain arsenic, benzene, and other toxic chemicals that dissolve in water and pollute Casco Bay when rain sweeps them into storm drains."

The Brand Co. in Portland played a role in developing the look of the Sidewalk Buttler, a container that has an inner liner that can be maintained by the city Public Services Department. Butts will be shipped to TerraCycle, which will convert the waste into plastic pellets that can be used to make park benches, shipping pallets and railroad ties.

"Businesses and residents have long expressed their concerns to city officials about cigarette butts littering our streets and sidewalks," said Portland City Councilor Cheryl Leeman. "Unfortunately, some seem to think cigarette butts are a socially acceptable form of litter; this program will help change that."

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