No Butts in the Bay

By Kathy Knotts 

A new public education program in the City of Annapolis aims to keep more plastic out of the Bay by targeting the waste left behind by smokers. The latest weapon in the fight for a cleaner city: receptacles for cigarette butts to be recycled. 

With the help of environmental nonprofit Annapolis Green, the city has installed seven cigarette receptacles around Annapolis and Eastport that carry the message that cigarette butts are not only unsightly litter, but with every rainfall they wash into storm drains, ending up in our creeks, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.  

Cigarette butts are made of plastic so they are not biodegradable; they break up into microscopic pieces that marine life and birds can mistake for food; and they are designed to absorb toxic chemicals from entering smokers’ lungs so they hold materials that are harmful to wildlife. 

The “No Butts in the Bay” campaign will collect the contents in the receptacles to send to TerraCycle to recover their plastic parts to be used in other products. 

Smokers will be offered individual pocket ashtrays and cup-holder size ashtrays to encourage them to hang on to their butts until a proper receptacle is in sight along with educational handouts. 

The campaign is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 

“We want our city to be clean and beautiful,” said Mayor Gavin Buckley, “and we want our residents and visitors who choose to smoke to do the right thing by our environment.”