Westwood officials have placed 13 cigarette recycling receptacles around Westwood Village to decrease the amount of cigarette litter on sidewalks.
The Westwood Village Improvement Association, also known as the BID, installed long gray TerraCycle receptacles on street poles earlier this month.
The program cost the BID about $1,000, but the recycling company TerraCycle will send the BID money or furniture if officials collect a certain amount of cigarette butts, said Andrew Thomas, executive director of the BID.
Workers will empty the receptacles every Monday and ship the waste to TerraCycle, where they will turn the waste into plastic products or furniture, said Michael Gonzalez, ambassador operations manager of the BID.
The BID will now also keep track of the amount of cigarette waste collected from the receptacles, Gonzalez said. The number of cigarette butts disposed of was not previously recorded.
Gonzalez said officials placed the receptacles where workers saw the most cigarette waste, such as near O’Hara’s and on Lindbrook Drive near Starbucks and Subway. Thomas added workers also found a high number of cigarette waste near UCLA Extension and Kaplan Test Prep on Westwood Boulevard.
Gonzalez said he suggested the BID participate in the program after he went to a convention in New Orleans, which had a TerraCycle cigarette recycling program in place. At the convention, he met the regional vice president of the company and asked to bring a similar pilot program to Westwood Village.
The first batch collected on Monday contained about three pounds of cigarette butts, Gonzalez said.
Thomas said he hopes this program will minimize the time workers spend sweeping cigarette butts off sidewalks and reduce the amount of butts that go down storm drains.
“Every little bit helps,” Gonzalez said. “One bucket alone can kill a lot of fish.”
Some smokers in Westwood Village agreed the recycling program may help decrease the amount of cigarette waste, but think the receptacles can be better displayed.
Sarah Anderson, a Westwood resident who smokes, said she always tries to find an ashtray nearby to avoid throwing the cigarette butt on the ground. She said would use the new receptacles but thinks other smokers might not go out of their way to find a receptacle to recycle it.
Mora Weight, who works at an insurance company on Glendon Avenue, said she has seen many people use the the receptacle on Lindbrook Drive outside Starbucks and Subway.
She added she thinks the BID should paint the receptacles a brighter color instead of gray and add better signage, so people can better identify them and know what they are for.
Gonzalez said they will move receptacles around if they notice current locations are not effective, or add receptacles if they see that the program is popular.