Africa Biodegradation & Compostation Consumer Trends Packaging

Cape Town Start-Up Launches World’s First Biodegradable Cigarette

It turns out the world’s obsession with plastic is far from over. Yes, we’re aware of the global plastic straw crusade going on at the moment – which in itself seems a tad overdue – but cigarette filters? SURELY they converted the world’s biggest form of litter to something biodegradable ages ago? Nope, they didn’t. And we’re as shocked as you are.

It turns out the world’s obsession with plastic is far from over. Yes, we’re aware of the global plastic straw crusade going on at the moment – which in itself seems a tad overdue – but cigarette filters? SURELY they converted the world’s biggest form of litter to something biodegradable ages ago? Nope, they didn’t. And we’re as shocked as you are.

You see, normal cigarette filters break-down into tiny pieces of micro-plastic when exposed to UV Rays, which never biodegrade. It’s a much bigger problem for our oceans than straws.

Can you actually believe this? From Wikipedia:

Cigarette butts are the most common form of anthropogenic (man-made) litter in the world, as approximately 5.6 trillion cigarettes are smoked every year worldwide. Of those it is estimated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts become litter every year. The cellulose acetate fibers used as the predominant filter material do not readily biodegrade because of the acetyl groups on the cellulose backbone which in itself can quickly be degraded by various microorganisms employing cellulases. A normal life span of a discarded filter is thought to be up to 15 years.

I actually feel ill.

Luckily a company in South Africa are busy launching a cigarette (and packaging) which is 100% biodegradable. A world first.

The founders, Adam van Wyngaarden and Davide Scott, started Smokey Treats (sounds fun!), with their flagship product being ‘Woodland Craft Cigarettes‘.

Besides having zero artificial additives and being 100% natural, Woodlands also happen to have biodegradable filters made from wooden sponge. They will be completely dissolved – naturally – in about three months.

So what makes this so special? It’s the first cigarette that doesn’t leave plastic behind. The filter isn’t made out of plastic, but rather biodegradable wood-pulp. The tobacco does not contain 600 artificial additives, it’s just pure – delicious – African tobacco. The cigarette paper isn’t bleached with chlorine, not even a little bit – and it’s even made from unbleached wood pulp. The packaging has not been laminated in plastic and covered with metal, and synthetic inks – it’s just recycled cardboard and soy ink. This makes our patent-pending Smokey Treats the obvious choice for the 21st century smoker.

I chatted to Adam and Davide and managed to get the following stats:

  • Woodlands craft cigarettes launched a few days before Christmas 2018. Since then they’ve grown to supply over 225 stores in the Western Cape – and have just launched in their first Johannesburg store (Wesley’s Tobacconist in Rosebank Mall)
  • There’s been a great response from outdoor music festivals (they were the only cigarette selling at over 15 of SA’s biggest festivals this season). It seems festival organisers like not having to clean up thousands of plastic filters off the ground at the end of it.
    • Sold over 30,000 packs (therefore replaced 600,000 plastic filters with wooden ones)
    • Smokey Treats is donating 1% of net-profits towards planting trees and food gardens in underprivileged communities around South Africa
    • SA’s first cannabis (hemp for now) cigarette is in the pipeline.

I’m not quite sure what to say. We’re not big fans of smoking, here at 2oceansvibe, but damn, if you’re going to smoke, at least do it without causing harm to the environment. Right? Their website is industry only, but you can still find out a bit more about what they’re doing here. Hopefully, big tobacco takes note and gets their house in order – because this is a no-brainer. Well done, guys.

REFS

This article was published on www.2oceansvibe.com and written by Seth Rotherham