Silver receptacles popping up lately across Franklin are just as unique as the program that is providing them.
“Butt-Free Franklin, Tennessee,” a partnership program between the non-profit Water City USA and Tennessee’s Department of Transportation, seeks to reduce cigarette litter in Franklin’s roadways and waterways by offering stainless steel ash cans to businesses that are willing to ship cigarette butts to a national recycler that turns cigarette butts into shipping pallets.
Program participants also agree to donate their collected butts to Water City USA, which recycles them into industrial shipping pallets through a program of national recycler TerraCycle. Nearly half a million cigarette butts have been shipped under Water City USA’s lead.
Bright blue stickers are affixed to each side of the receptacles, noting: “Butts deposited here stay clear of the local rivers, creeks and streams and will be recycled into useful shipping pallets. Thanks for helping out the environment.”
“We initially offered this program to the City of Franklin, but after they declined we invited private businesses,” said Mark Thien, executive director of Water City USA. “Eighteen businesses quickly answered our challenge. We’re glad for their leadership as the program grows.”
Water City USA is a non-profit that operates out of Nashville and is focused on clean water initiatives. The “Butt Free Franklin” program is made possible from a Tennessee Department of Transportation special litter grant, which pays for the stainless steel ash cans and stickers.
“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,” said Shawn Bible, Beautification manager for TDOT. “TDOT encourages everyone to properly dispose of cigarettes and other waste to avoid the costs of clean up.” provides educational material and unique stainless steel ash cans to Franklin businesses who agree to help enlighten customers about the persistent litter problem.
Businesses Participating in Butt Free Program:
731 Columbia Avenue
553 Cool Springs Blvd
1117 Columbia Ave.
1143 Columbia Ave
1175 Meridian Boulevard
Harley Davidson of Cool Springs
7128 South Springs Drive
Discount Plumbing & Heating
101 Century Court
7086 Bakers Bridge Rd
Darrell Waltrip Buick GMC
1440 Murfreesboro Road
Darrell Waltrip Honda
1430 Murfreesboro Road
Darrell Waltrip Subaru/Volvo
1450 Murfreesboro Rd
Darrell Waltrip Automotive
1406 Murfreesboro Road
National statistics show cigarette butts remain the most littered item in the U.S. As much as 38% of all roadway litter involves tobacco products. Once on the ground as litter, rain carries the majority of Franklin’s cigarette butts into nearby gutters and storm drains. From there, they make way to the creeks, streams and water systems that feed the Harpeth River and connected waterways.
“With a 23% 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.
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, the person can be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor and fined $50.
Franklin businesses interested in the non-profit’s cigarette waste recycling program are encouraged to email Butts@NashvilleH2o.org.