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No butts, just maybe……….


Optimize Blog - May 13, 2010 - 1 comment

So here at Zeitgeist we were scanning the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research web site only to come across a fabulous piece of research involving the all too common cigarette butt. Well maybe someone else was scanning it and we just happened across the story……
When we say ‘all too common’ we mean it – some estimates put the figure of cigarette butts discarded annually at 4.5 trillion. As a third of all cigarettes are consumed in China it is little surprise then that it is a research paper from that country that has identified a potential use for this blot on our global landscape.
Before we get to the new and exciting potential of the little bits of garbage that we forever seem to be avoiding at the beach or walking into our houses it’s worth considering their impact beyond the aesthetic.
Poison. Each one of those discarded butts contains poison. The research paper indicates that this poison is especially bad for saltwater fish to the extent that the toxic substances in just one cigarette butt will kill half the fish in 1 liter of water every 96 hours.
Clearly recycling and the proper disposal of cigarette butts should be an environmental priority on the basis that education around the detrimental health aspects of smoking are still having only a limited effect in certain countries and demographics.
So these researchers in China have a potential solution – the viable recycling of butts. Apparently chemicals can be extracted from the waste which act as a “corrosion inhibitor for N80 steel at 90 °C in hydrochloric acid” to quote the article. We’re not technical but we generally understand that corrosion is usually bad and so any slowing down or inhibiting of corrosion is going to be good.
This has useful applications in the oil and gas industry and other industries where corrosion is both a cost and a safety concern and no doubt as the research develops other uses and applications will become clear.
The paper gives no indication of why someone would look at a cigarette butt and make the leap to anti-corrosion but it is a great reinforcement of the creativity and innovation that lurks within the human mind and here at Zeitgeist we’re all for innovation and looking at things from a different perspective.
We’re looking forward to seeing those butt recycling bins right next to the bins for cans, bottles, paper, cardboard, clothes, glasses……………………..

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