But an engineer at Australia's RMIT University has found a way to not only divert some of those used filters from ending up in the environment, but also a way to make them into something useful: bricks. Dr. Abbas Mohajerani and his team discovered that fired-clay bricks made with cigarette butts can save energy and help solve a global littering problem. They were found to be lighter with better insulation properties, and their quality is hardly different from that of normal bricks.
Mohajerani said: "Incorporating butts into bricks can effectively solve a global litter problem as recycled cigarette butts can be placed in bricks without any fear of leaching or contamination.
"They are also cheaper to produce in terms of energy requirements, and as more butts are incorporated, the energy cost decreases further."
About 6 trillion cigarettes are produced each year, creating about 1.2 million tons of cigarette butt waste. Mohajerani estimates that if just 2.5 percent of bricks made worldwide were made up of 1 percent butts, the the impact could be significant.