It is one of the humanities single most littered products year on year – the cigarette butt. Now, however, scientists and researchers from RMIT University in Australia claim to have found a novel and environmentally friendly use for this common waste product.
In a novel research project, rather than having to deal with cigarette butts on our roads and pavements, scientists are now putting them inside of impermeable surface mixtures.
The Australian based research have mixed the littered butts into asphalt. This results in a blend that can not only handle required levels of traffic and carrying loads, but also exhibited reduced levels of thermal conductivity.
Firstly, scientists encapsulate the cigarettes butts in bitumen and paraffin wax to contain the chemicals filtered into the cigarette ends. This ensures no negative leaching occurs through the concrete. It is the simply a process of adding the butts into the construction material for use.
In terms of environmental benefits, this new blend will not only be solving a problem related to littering, but its thermal properties will help in reducing the urban heat island effect – an issue that affects multiple cities across the globe.
A senior member of the team, Dr Abbas Mohanjerani, said: “this research shows that you can create a new construction material while ridding the environment of a huge waste problem”. With an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts littered worldwide each year, this methodology could be revolutionary in terms of reducing and re-purposing waste.