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Cigarette Butts, K-Cups and Tennis Balls Are Recyclable? Yep, Find Out How

By Patty Wetli | April 23, 2015 5:45am
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Feeling good about saving the planet what with all the paper, plastic and glass you recycle?

It's a drop in the bucket compared with all the trash that winds up in landfills, much of which, with a little effort, could be repurposed and kept out of the waste stream.

Tennis balls: Three hundred million tennis balls are manufactured annually worldwide. Aside from the ones salvaged to pad the bottoms of chairs and walkers, most will wind up as garbage.

Project Green Ball has hit upon a unique re-use: turning balls that have lost their bounce into turf for equestrian arenas. So far they've collected more than 200,000 balls. If you'd like to donate, contact info@projectgreenball.org.

Cigarette butts: The most-littered item not just in the U.S. but around the world is cigarette butts, to the tune of trillions — that's trillions with a "t" — of them annually.

TerraCycle, which specializes in hard-to-recycle waste, collects cigarette butts, which are then turned into industrial products like plastic pallets. Participants in the organization's Cigarette Waste Brigade simply place their gathered butts in a plastic bag and ship 'em off. The process is fully explained in the company's FAQ.

Patty Wetli explains how to recycle some everyday items:

Lingerie: Almost all textiles can be recycled in one form or another, yet 85 percent wind up in landfills. The Bra Recyclers are focused on rescuing at least this one garment from the trash. They collect used bras, in good condition, and pass them along to charity partners — bras being one of the most-requested items in shelters for women.

Wanna support this uplifting effort? Submit a bra recycling form and the organization will respond with a shipping label.

Keurig cups: After a meteoric rise up the consumer product ladder, K-cups' fall from grace has been no less precipitous ever since folks started doing the math. By the numbers, 9.8 billion single serving #7 plastic (i.e., non-recyclable) cups create enough waste to circle the planet more than 10 times.

Keurig has developed its own collection program, Grounds to Grow On, which employs a third-party recycler to turn the cups' grounds into compost and the plastic into fuel.

The good people of TerraCycle also collect what they call "pre-packaged beverage capsules used in capsule-specific machines to make hot beverages." Send away for one of their Zero Waste Boxes — they cost $78 to $210 — toss your K-cups into the receptacle, ship the box back to TerraCycle and they'll mold the cups into recycled plastic products.

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