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FiltraCycle - the startup that recycles cigarette butts

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by Startacus Admin

filtracycle butt

FiltraCycle - The Irish startup that's tackling environmental pollution in an entirely innovative way...

filtracycle imageA cigarette doesn’t seem like a lot of waste, does it? One little piece of paper, dry leaves, and some kind of compact cotton filter. Unpleasant to see scattered about the street or getting stuck to your shoe, but there’s far worse litter out there, isn’t there?

But what about the 6.5 trillion cigarette butts, 893 times the number of humans on earth, discarded every year? What about when you realise that those filters are not cotton or anything else biodegradable, but cellulose acetate - plastic fibres?

Plastic fibres that don’t absorb enough of the chemicals and heavy metals to protect the smoker’s health, but do absorb enough to make those butts toxic to the environment and to creatures of both land and sea that end up eating them, killing marine life, and poisoning water and soil.

Dublin-based startup FiltraCycle is on a mission to clean up the streets in what we are led to believe is less of a Dirty Harry manner and more an IoT-enabled standing ashtrays in college campuses, city bins, bars, and social venues manner.

filtracycle picTheir 5-year goal is to set up a network of recycling facilities across Europe and be recycling at least 10% of Europe’s cigarette butts to turn them into clean, high-grade cellulose acetate plastic pellets that can be used in injection moulding. That 5-year goal will see them keeping 4,400 tonnes of plastic out of the environment every year and using it to replace petroleum plastic.

The three founders of FiltraCycle are currently in Trinity College’s LaunchBox accelerator for high-potential student startups. They have gone from initial tests in their back garden to better equipment and successfully converting 5,000 cigarette butts into usable plastic, and in September, official testing will begin in their first production facility in Dublin with a batch of 800,000. From there, they will start work on raising €500,000 to upgrade to an industrial plant (and to launch their own brand of sunglasses created with their recycled plastic).

This is a business that stands to make a massive difference to environmental pollution and put a big dent in the issue of microplastic waste in our oceans.

We hope to see more from FiltraCycle in the future.

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Published on: 16th August 2020

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