Dutch technical consultancy firm Spark904 has teamed up with three partners in order to address the pollution problem caused by cigarette butts and realizing a proof of concept to recycle cellulose acetate to create frames for eyeglasses.
According to Spark904’s research blog, “98% of cigarette filters are made from plastic fibers. The plastic fiber in cigarette butts is cellulose acetate. Cellulose acetate can degrade in nature, but it can take up to 10 years for it to fully degrade! In the meantime, they lead to pollution of soil and water bodies as a variety of chemicals leach out of the butts.
“Cigarette butt waste is everywhere: 99% of the 360 billion cigarettes sold have cellulose acetate (plastic) filters; at least one-third of those – 120 billion – are discarded into the environment. Washed into rivers, lakes and the ocean, and eaten by birds, animals and fish, they are the most littered item in the U.S. and the world. In the meantime 75% of smokers report disposing cigarettes on the ground or flicking it out of a car window.”
In a circulaire keten project (subsidy scheme of the RVO) Spark904 has joined forces with Peukenzee, an organisation that collects cigarette butts and raises awareness around cigarette butts pollution; Dick Moby, the manufacturer of glasses using cellulose acetate and Egmond Plastics, a plastic fabrication company. Spark904 will be in charge of performing lab-scale technological development for recycling cellulose acetate.
Spark904 will leverage their in favor of technological development by using their technical know-how, research facilities, analytical and spectroscopic assessments to produce a material that will have the right properties for use in a very specific application: making frames for eyeglasses. The project aims to create a stable business process that is ready for scale-up. “This fits Spark904’s core propositions to make use of university facilities and expertise in societally relevant projects” states Spark904 on their blog.