On the outskirts of the capital, groups of people patiently separate piles of cigarette butts into paper, brown fiber and tobacco dust. And over time, each separated item is stirred into products ranging from soft toys to diaries.
Sustainability-focused startup Code Effort has been recycling cigarette butts into a variety of products for over four years, and is even exploring the possibility of making air purifiers from recycled butts.
“We pay between 200 and 400 rupees per kilogram of cigarette butts we procure from various organizations. We have over 200 collection centers in different parts of the country,” said startup founder and director Naman Gupta. he told PTI.
Cigarette butts that end up in the garbage are collected by Code Effort through a variety of means, including the help of over 2,000 garbage pickers from different parts of the country.
The painstaking process of recycling cigarette butts is not only boosting sustainability efforts, but also providing additional income for women in neighborhoods during this time when prices are rising.
Sitting at his facility in Noida, in the metropolitan area, Gupta said Code Effort has recycled more than 1.2 billion cigarette butts since its inception, increasing its sourcing and recycling capacity from 30 to 300 tonnes per month. He said plans to expand were underway. 2025.
“We employ more than 100 women and local craftsmen in our factory in Noida, Uttar Pradesh for a living,” said Gupta.
Poonam, one of the women interested in making products out of recycled cigarette butts for Code Effort, said the work would bring her additional income.
Being able to work from home also gives her the flexibility to manage household chores and take care of her children, she added.
Going into an elaborate recycling process, cigarette butts are first separated into fiber, paper and tobacco dust. Fibers or cigarette filters made from cellulose acetate are soaked in water and then ground. It is then treated with biodegradable chemicals and kept in solution for 24-36 hours. The resulting white cotton material is dried for about an hour to soften it. This material is mainly used to make stuffed animals.
The paper separated from cigarette butts is treated with organic binders, essential oils, fragrances and other chemicals and recycled, while the remaining tobacco dust is collected in rectangular tanks and left to rot for about a month. The resulting compost is supplied to nearby villages as fertilizer.
In Gupta’s words, “This is basically full end-to-end recycling, an example of a circular economy.”
Code Effort claims to recycle about 1,000 kilograms, or the equivalent of 3.5 million cigarette butts, every day.
We currently sell our products through the company’s website and various company white labels.
“Products include paper sheets made from compost, paper bags, soft toys, key chains, diaries and mosquito repellents,” he said.
Gupta said he plans to make more products in the future, including a potential air purifier, by recycling cigarette butts.
Anyone can voluntarily send cigarette butts to Code Effort for recycling, and all volunteers receive gifts and incentives for their help. Second, she works with her more than 2,000 bolo pickers across India to collect cigarette butts. This helps increase collection rates and promote livelihood opportunities for these rags,” he said.
The startup has also created a model where associates are paid for supplies.
Code Effort currently has associates in over 250 territories.
The startup is also active in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, said Gupta, adding, “We are a flexible and collaborative company when it comes to overseas expansion.”
According to him, cigarette butts as a raw material have immense properties and uses.
Over the next three years, “B2B (Business-to-Business) and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)/EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility)/CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives will account for 75% of our efforts.” Revenue. D2C (Direct-To-Consumer) brands will appeal to the environment-loving Generation Y/Z section,” he added.
He added, “Even if you’re trying to smoke less, dispose of your cigarette butts wisely so that you can recycle them efficiently and make better use of your cigarette butts.” rice field.
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