The CODE to tackling cigarette waste

Social entrepreneurs Vishal and Naman set up CODE for the betterment of society by recycling cigarette waste. Photo credit: Atul Kumar Photograph:( WION )

WION Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India Feb 09, 2017, 01.24 PM (IST)

By Atul Kumar, WION

They call it organic manure. They sell it for Rs 15 per kg to a biotechnology and engineering company which uses it for plants. But it is not the usual kitchen waste which goes into its making. The secret recipe is cigarette refuse, mostly made of paper from butts and leftover tobacco of a used cigarette.

Cigarettes are the most littered items in India. In 2015, more than 88 billion cigarettes were sold in the country. More than 240 million cigarette butts were discarded on the streets per day. Hence, this became an issue that this initiative tackles. CODE has been set up by a young duo looking to start a venture for the betterment of society.

If cigarette smoking is injurious to health, the waste is equally injurious to the environment. Cigarette butts are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic filter that is not biodegradable, harming the ecology for a very long time, sometimes up to 10 years before they disappear. CODE project recycles every last bit of cigarette waste, including the ash.

The social entrepreneurs Naman Gupta, 22, and Vishal Kanet, 25, are both born and brought up in Noida. Naman is pursuing a Chartered Accountancy course and also tutors. Vishal holds a diploma in professional photography.

“We are working towards an environment-friendly air purifier that can be used to reduce pollution out of industrial chimneys and various ventilation systems. Within the next two years, we are planning to generate employment for social upliftment and cover almost 50 per cent of the region that we cater. In the coming year, Code Enterprises LLP will have a complete list of by-products to gain stability and ensure zero waste propaganda all over the nation,” the duo says.

Since July 2016, CODE has so far collected over 50 kgs of cigarette waste. It has been very cost-effective and has involved low investment. As for now, investments will be managed by Naman and Vishal till the time of expansion and proper setup of the factory.

They buy cigarette waste from individual smokers, cigarette vendors and commercial establishments. CODE pays collectors Rs 800 per kg for cigarette waste. They give collectors a steel bin (V-Bin) where they can collect the
waste. Vishal and Naman then themselves separate ash, tobacco, paper and filter of the collected butts.

A filter is reused only after it goes for chemical cleaning for 25 days. “We will not seek a patent for the chemical because we don't want to restrict anybody from using it on their own. Patent rights will be reserved in case of by-product composition (chemical for air-purifier, fly-ash bricks) and its usage,” the duo says. According to CODE, the recycled filters are 99.99% harmless and fit for
reuse.

With reluctant vendors to low collection, people were rather stunned regarding collection of cigarette waste. Some vendors were reluctant to pay the subscription charges and some collection bins got lost too. “We have had a lot
of rejection as well with people criticizing our cause,” they add.