Cigarette butt


Made in

Circular 205 Recycled 115 Natural dye 6 Solvent 2

Cigarette butt

Photos: Sachi Tungare

Let's (not) kick butt.

Plastic straw ban? Cigarettes are the greatest source of ocean trash – reported CNN (25th Jan, 2019)

Cigarette butts have been the single most collected item on the world’s beaches, with 4.5 trillion cigarettes dropped on streets worldwide. With more and more people taking up smoking due to increased levels of stress, cigarette butts as waste are nowhere close to vanishing. Two out of every three cigarettes end up wrongly disposed of. Cigarette butts are now clogging the oceans.

When tossed into the environment, it is not just the cellulose acetate (plastic) that is harmful, the cigarette butt has multitudes of chemicals and heavy metals that are then absorbed into the surroundings.

Most products around us have a linear lifecycle: production - use – trash. Circular design is the practice of extending the lifecycle of the product with value addition, from a linear one to a circular one. This project looks at repurposing the massive amount of cigarette butts that are wrongly disposed of and exploring its potential as a sustainable material - upcycling toxic waste into attractive homeware. Sachi Tungare adds value to waste by ecologically cleansing and then casting the cigarette butt fibres made of cellulose acetate, into unique organic forms with vivid patterns. This ensures no two products are the same!

Having collected cigarette butts from the streets and cleaned them using ecological agents, an extensive study was carried out. In this project, Tungare explored it’s potential as a sustainable material, right from dissecting it and treating it to be toxin free and safe for human contact, to dissolving it and casting it in various moulds – scoping for potential to add value to what was otherwise quite simply, trash. The result of this was a wide range of products: organizers, vases, coasters and even paper; to name a few.

Scientists are studying and developing ways to recycle cigarette butts and there has been some progress in that area. My approach as a designer has been to create visual representations of the cigarette butts, by upcycling them into objects of daily use. It acts as a reminder of the fact that your actions have consequences. Flicking a cigarette after having smoked is the most natural habitual action. However, collectively, it has a grave impact on the environment. This project demonstrates that there are better ways of disposal, better ways of treating waste.

Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.


Cellulose acetate, enzyme based bleach, natural dyes, solvent, water.