3D Printing FilamentsMaterialsSustainability

Filaret recyles cigarette butts into 3D printing filament

The bins have been installed on the beaches of the Põhja-Tallinn district, in Estonia, as part of a two month long pilot project

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Last week, Filaret, a Tallinn-based company that collects cigarette butts and recycles them into useful cellulose acetate-based bioplastic material that can be 3D printed, installed special litter bins on the beaches of the Põhja-Tallinn district, in Estonia, to prevent cigarette butts from ending up in the sea. The material collected in the bins will later be given a new life as a 3D printing filament. This is, initially, a pilot project that will run for two months.

“Every year, almost 80 tonnes of cigarette filters end up in the environment, which do not decompose and cause the toxic substances to reach the human diet through marine animals. I hope that these special cigarette bins will help to reduce this widespread marine litter,” said Joosep Vimm, Tallinn Deputy Mayor. “What makes the project particularly interesting is that, in addition to just collecting the cigarette butts from the beach, they will be upcycled into compostable 3D printing material, thus reducing the problem of plastic waste,” added Josep Vimm.

Filaret recyles cigarette butts into 3D printing filament. Bins have been installed on the beaches of the Põhja-Tallinn district, in Estonia.
Filaret cigarette butt bin

Cigarette butts are one of the most common types of marine litter in the Baltic Sea. In addition to plastic, most of the waste found in the Baltic Sea and coastal areas is cigarette butts and cigarette filters, which are toxic and non-biodegradable. A single cigarette butt can pollute up to 1,000 liters of water, and toxins released from the filter into the water can persist for up to 10 years, becoming lethal to aquatic life.

The locations of the Filaret cigarette bins were selected in cooperation with the Põhja-Tallinn district government. The bins have initially been installed for two months in Stroomi beach park, Katariina quay, and the fishermen’s slip at Pikakari beach, on the new promenade at Kalaranna, on the promenade of Kopli, at the Seaplane Harbour, and at the Linnahall quay, where a café with an outdoor terrace will be opened in the near future. In total, 20 cigarette bins will be placed in the urban space.

Filaret recyles cigarette butts into 3D printing filament. Bins have been installed on the beaches of the Põhja-Tallinn district, in Estonia.
Filaret cycle

The project is being carried out by the Circular Economy Department of the Tallinn Strategic Management Office in cooperation with Filaret OÜ – a circular economy company with a unique collection service for cigarette butts. The company helps to remove cigarette litter from streets and natural areas, which is then recycled into environmentally friendly compostable 3D printing filament. Filaret is also a partner to the Port of Tallinn and the Tallinn Airport.

The Filaret cigarette bins were put up as part of Baltic Sea Day on 25 August and will be taken down at the end of October. If the project proves to be successful, the city will purchase the cigarette bins in the future and install them in a wider area along the sea and river in Tallinn.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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