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Organizers have started assembling silver receptacles across Franklin as a preventive measure that strives to eliminate cigarette butts from the ground to enforce a cleaner environment.

Organizers have started assembling silver receptacles across Franklin as a preventive measure that strives to eliminate cigarette butts from the ground to enforce a cleaner environment.

The initiative titled “Butt-Free Franklin, Tennessee,” is a partnership program between the nonprofit Water City USA and Tennessee’s Department of Transportation, and seeks to reduce cigarette litter from the city’s road and waterways.

“We initially offered this program to the city of Franklin, but after they declined, we invited private businesses,” executive director of Water City USA Mark Thien said in a press release. “Eighteen businesses quickly answered our challenge. We’re glad for their leadership as the program grows.”

The local program will provide educational material and stainless steel ash cans to local businesses that agree to help enlighten customers about what organizers consider a persistent litter problem.

Bright blue, attention-getting stickers affixed to each side of the receptacles note the dangers of butts deposited in the river. It also recognizes that the recycled material will transform into shipping pallets.

The news release relayed national statistics have shown cigarette butts remain the most littered item in the U.S. Once on the ground, rain will carry the majority of Franklin’s cigarette butts into nearby gutters and storm drains. From there, the litter makes its way to the creeks, streams and water systems that feed the Harpeth River and connected waterways.

The Ocean Conservancy’s 2012 International Coastal Cleanup also indicated cigarette butts as the most littered item, representing 32 percent of all items collected. Cigarette waste is also the largest single component of roadside litter when counted piece by piece.

Thien said in the release that TDOT spends millions of dollars annually on unnecessary roadside litter.

“With a 23 percent smoking rate in Tennessee, and nearly a dozen cigarettes per person as the daily average, Franklin residents may be generating as many as 44 million cigarette butts each year,” Thien said.

The local project is made possible from a TDOT special litter grant. Water City USA is one of 15 community and nonprofit groups to receive a grant for special litter pickups.

“Throwing anything, including cigarette waste, out the window is like throwing money out the window because it costs tax payers money when TDOT has to clean it up,” Beautification TDOT manager Shawn Bible said in the release. “TDOT encourages everyone to properly dispose of cigarettes and other waste to avoid the costs of clean up.”

In Tennessee, littering is punishable under state law (Section 39-14-502 thru 511). If a law enforcement officer observes someone throwing a cigarette butt out of the window, authorities can charge that individual with a Class C Misdemeanor and fined $50.

Franklin businesses interested in the non-profit’s cigarette waste recycling program are encouraged to email [email protected]. The organization can be found at Facebook/NashvilleH2o, Twitter.com/NashvilleH2o or online.

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