Containers for discarded cigarettes placed in city

Community volunteer Margaret Brumm, left, and Kathleen Henry, education and special projects coordinator for the Superior Watershed Partnership, stand by a container at Clark Lambros’ Beach Park in Marquette where cigarette filters can be discarded. The filters eventually will be recycled. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — At least at Clark Lambros’ Beach Park, no one has a good excuse for littering the area with used cigarette filters.

A container for these filters to be placed — and later recycled — now is available by the parking lot, as part of a collaboration among the Superior Watershed Partnership, the city of Marquette and community volunteer efforts.

Cigarette filters do not easily break down, plus they can make their way through the stormwater system to a place they don’t belong.

“There were a handful of sites that were identified where cigarette butts were washing up,” said Kathleen Henry, education and special projects coordinator for the SWP.

Drains in Marquette flow into Lake Superior, she said, so the SWP and the city of Marquette purchased and installed five containers through TerraCycle, which specifically recycles cigarette filters that are sent to it. For every pound that is collected, TerraCycle will donate $1 to the Keep America Beautiful organization.

Cigarette filters, Henry said, are made of a material called cellulose acetate.

“The cellulose acetate is pelletized and used in manufacturing recycled plastic lumber that can be used to make benches, picnic benches, playground materials, other things of that nature,” she said.

Community volunteer Margaret Brumm is involved in the effort.

“I started this summer, horrified to find fireworks debris and cigarette butts in all the dry grass, and I wrote a letter to all the city commissioners,” Brumm said. “There was a lot of behind-the scenes discussion.

“One day the Superior Watershed Partnership reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this. Do you want to be involved?'”

Brumm agreed to taking part in the project because she spends time traveling “from parking lot to parking lot” with a broom and a dustpan, sweeping up the debris.

“When I was a young person, people smoked everywhere and dumped stuff everywhere,” she said. “People didn’t wear seat belts. People smoked indoors. The cultural change in my own lifetime has been extraordinary. We’re now taking it one step further. It’s not acceptable to throw this on the ground.

“And you’re saying to yourself, ‘What does it matter — one cigarette butt?'”

All those cigarette butts aren’t going to go into the lake, Brumm said, if people take the messes they make and create a “little bit less of a mess,” which they should consider making a daily activity.

This is where the new containers, such as the one placed at Clark Lambros’ Beach Park, can come into play.

“What we’re try to do is change the cultural expectation, which is, you don’t see anybody smoking indoors anymore,” she said. “Maybe pretty soon, we don’t see anybody flicking cigarettes on the ground. We see them looking for this, or just being aware to put it in the trash bags.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net


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