Paper from cigarette butts

  Therese Hoffmann is a professor of chemistry at the University of Brasília and a veteran environmentalist. On the way to and from get off work every day on foot, Hoffman was very sad to see a lot of cigarette butts scattered on the ground. As a senior environmental protection expert, Hoffman is well aware of how harmful cigarette butts are to the environment. There are more than 2,000 harmful substances in cigarette butts, which take up to 5 years to decompose naturally, and are harmful to soil, rivers and groundwater. is extremely harmful.
  Hoffman felt that he should do something to control the pollution of cigarette butts in Rio, so he used his spare time to conduct research on cigarette butts.
  He collected cigarette butts from the street and took them to a laboratory for testing. After testing, Hoffman was pleasantly surprised to find that the organic components contained in the cigarette butts were very similar to those of pulp. So, Hoffman had a whim, if cigarette butts could be used to make paper, it would not only solve the problem of cigarette butt pollution, but also save a lot of wood and create wealth.

A student poses with handmade paper drying in the studio of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Brasilia

Two passers-by throw cigarette butts into recycling tins

  So Hoffman began to experiment with making paper from cigarette butts. He removes the harmful substances and unpleasant nicotine smell from the collected cigarette butts through processes such as heating, draining, stirring, compressing, and drying, and uses the remaining non-toxic and tasteless fibers to make paper. The paper produced in this way will not cause harm to human health. After hundreds of experiments, the non-toxic and tasteless cigarette butt paper was finally produced. Hoffman registered a patent for the cigarette butt papermaking technology, and sought paper manufacturers to cooperate in production.
  Although cigarette butt paper is not as good as paper made of wood in terms of color and feel, it has attracted the attention of paper manufacturers because of its low cost and environmental protection. Hoffman selected a company named “FBR Paper” from many paper manufacturers to jointly produce cigarette butt paper products with it.
  However, before cigarette butt paper products are put into production, the collection of cigarette butts has become an unavoidable problem. People are always used to throwing cigarette butts on the ground and sweeping them into the dustbin together with other garbage such as fruit peels. In order to collect clean cigarette butts that are not mixed with other garbage, Hoffman designed a novel cigarette butt recycling bin. This cigarette butt recycling box integrates the cigarette butt recycling box and the ballot box, and is divided into upper and lower parts. The upper part is the voting topic column (a new topic is changed every day, for example, should pet dogs be punished for defecating? Please use your the butts of your choice into the ballot box). Below are cigarette butt polls (i.e. cigarette butt storage boxes) representing two opposing views. The innovative and beautiful cigarette butt recycling bins and interesting topic voting made the majority of smokers voluntarily throw their cigarette butts into the recycling bin.
  Cigarette butt recycling boxes all over major cities in Brazil ensure the source of cigarette butts for making cigarette butt paper, and “FBR Paper” began to produce cigarette butt paper products. Hofmann developed a wide range of products for cigarette butt paper – greeting cards, invitations, cartons, notebook covers and more. Because of the low price and the halo of environmental protection, cigarette butt paper products have attracted much attention. Brazilian government departments, schools, banks and other social institutions are the first to purchase and use them, followed by social groups such as travel agencies and hotels. Cigarette butt paper products are very popular.

Tin boxes for cigarette butt recycling photographed on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Abandoned shredded banknotes and recycled cigarette butts in the studio of the Art Institute of the University of Brasília

  Some departments have made special statistics: If 7 sheets of A4 copy paper are produced for every 300 cigarette butts, Rio State can produce 980,000 sheets per day, which can reach 357.7 million sheets per year. And a tree weighing about 100 kilograms can produce about 10,000 sheets of A4 paper, so Rio can save 35,770 trees from being felled every year. According to this calculation, if cigarette butt paper is produced and used all over Brazil and even the whole world, the number of trees that will be cut down must be amazing.
  Today, 70% of schools, hotels, and government offices in Brazil are using cigarette butt paper products, which not only saves the wood used to make paper, but also cultivates the concept of environmental protection in people’s daily life, making a great contribution to Brazil’s environmental governance .