How brick-makers can help butt out litter

May 23, 2016

RMIT researchers have shown how fired-clay bricks made with cigarette butts can save energy and help solve a global littering problem.

Trillions of cigarettes are produced every year worldwide, resulting in millions of tonnes of toxic waste being dumped into the environment in the form of cigarette butts.

As butts have poor biodegradability, it can take many years for them to break down, while heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, nickel and cadmium trapped in the filters leach into soil and waterways.

Now a team at RMIT University led by Dr Abbas Mohajerani has demonstrated that bricks with as little as 1 per cent cigarette butt content can cut brick production costs and save the environment.

Mohajerani, a senior lecturer in RMIT's School of Engineering, said: "I have been dreaming for many years about finding sustainable and practical methods for solving the problem of cigarette butt pollution.

"About 6 trillion cigarettes are produced every year, leading to 1.2 million tonnes of cigarette butt waste. These figures are expected to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2025, mainly due to an increase in world population.

"In Australia alone, people smoke about 25 to 30 billion filtered cigarettes a year and, of these, about 7 billion are littered. This research shows that if just 2.5 per cent of the world's annual brick production incorporated 1 per cent cigarette butts, we could completely offset annual worldwide cigarette production."

Mohajerani's team discovered that adding butts can cut the energy needed to fire bricks by up to 58 per cent.

Fired-clay bricks incorporated with cigarette butts were also lighter with better insulation properties - meaning reduced household heating and cooling costs.

Importantly, bricks incorporated with 1 per cent cigarette butts maintained properties very similar to those of normal bricks.

During firing, heavy metals and other pollutants in cigarette butts are trapped and immobilised in the bricks, reducing problems caused by leaching.

Mohajerani said: "Incorporating butts into bricks can effectively solve a global litter problem as recycled cigarette butts can be placed in bricks without any fear of leaching or contamination.

"They are also cheaper to produce in terms of energy requirements, and as more butts are incorporated, the energy cost decreases further."
-end-
The research has been published in Waste Management (Elsevier).

RMIT University

Related Cigarettes Articles from Brightsurf:

E-cigarettes can be 'gateway' to cigarettes for teens with no prior intention to smoke
Cigarette smoking remains a leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States.

Perceived harm of e-cigarettes vs cigarettes after outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury
This survey study looked at perceptions of the harms of electronic cigarettes compared to regular cigarettes among current smokers in England before and after the US outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury in 2019.

What influences adolescents to continuously use e-cigarettes?
In a Public Health Nursing study of adolescents who have used e-cigarettes in the past month, certain factors were associated with frequent use.

E-Cigarettes more effective than counseling alone for smoking cessation
Smokers who received smoking cessation counseling and used electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) containing nicotine were more than twice as likely to successfully quit smoking compared to those who received counseling but did not use e-cigarettes, in a clinical trial presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC).

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

An often-made claim that e-cigarettes are '95% safer' is not valid
The frequently cited claim that e-cigarettes are '95% less risky' or '95% less harmful' than combustible cigarettes is outdated, misleading and invalid -- and should no longer be made in discussions on the dangers of vaping, according to an editorial published today in the American Journal of Public Health by six leading experts on e-cigarettes and public health.

Young adults using both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes at significantly higher risk of stroke
People are looking at e-cigarettes as a 'healthy' alternative to cigarettes and we currently have an epidemic of e-cigarettes use.

Study finds increase in US adults who perceive E-cigarettes more harmful than cigarettes
The number of U.S. adults who perceive e-cigarettes to be at as harmful as, or more harmful than, cigarettes has increased between 2017 and 2018, even prior to the national outbreak of vaping-related lung disease and deaths

E-cigarettes take serious toll on heart health, not safer than traditional cigarettes
E-cigarette use has similar negative effects on cholesterol and glucose as traditional cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes are not worth the risk say scientists
There is growing evidence that electronic cigarettes have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, reports a paper published today in Cardiovascular Research, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Read More: Cigarettes News and Cigarettes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.