According to new research recently published in The Journal of Waste Management, old cigarette butts are great for manufacturing bricks.
The research, led by RMIT senior lecturer Abbas Mohajerani, found that using butts in the production of clay-fired bricks trapped the pollutants inside, preventing things like arsenic, cadmium, chromium and nickel from leaching into the environment. Countering 6 trillion cigarettes annually sounds like a losing battle, but the team believes it is achievable.
“This research shows that if just 2.5 percent of the world’s annual brick production incorporated 1 percent cigarette butts, we could completely offset annual worldwide cigarette production,” says Mohajerani.
Interestingly, it’s not just a case of stashing the butts somewhere out of sight: bricks made with cigarette butts can actually have superior properties than those without. According to the team, the energy used to fire bricks is reduced by more than half when butts are added, and the final product makes for better insulation.