The over 1.1 million square-foot super regional center CoolSprings Galleria has joined “Butt-Free Franklin, Tennessee,” a rapidly expanding partnership program between the non-profit Water City USA and Tennessee’s Department of Transportation to reduce cigarette waste.
“Butt-Free Franklin, Tennessee” is designed to remind smokers about appropriate disposal of cigarette butts. The program recycles donated cigarette butts from participating businesses into industrial shipping pallets through east-coast recycler, TerraCycle.
“With over 14 million visitors each year, we are excited to educate the greater Williamson County community and our CoolSprings Galleria shoppers to the knowledge that cigarette butts, when disposed of properly, can’t harm Franklin’s waterways including the Harpeth River,” said Dana Katterjohn, Marketing Director. “This easy-to-implement program and its friendly message makes sense, and we’re glad to be involved. “
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. Cigarette waste is also the largest single component of roadside litter when counted piece by piece; TDOT spends millions of dollars annually on unnecessary roadside litter.
The Galleria is the largest of several iconic Franklin businesses to participate, including Bunganut Pig, Handy Hardware, Drakes Restaurant, Famous Dave’s, the Williamson Herald, Harley Davidson of Cool Springs, and the Darrell Waltrip auto dealerships. The program also engages noteworthy Nashville attractions and businesses including the Music City Center, Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators and One Nashville Place. All participating businesses represent high traffic locations where the message can spread quickly to the public.
“Butt Free Franklin, Tennessee” provides educational material, seminars, consulting, and unique stainless steel ash cans to Franklin businesses who agree to enlighten customers about persistent cigarette litter problems. Bright blue, attention-getting 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.”
Galleria management has displayed one receptacle at each of five main entrances to the super regional shopping center which features more than 150 specialty stores and eateries.
“If the 23% state smoking statistics hold true, just the 3,500 employees at the Galleria alone could be generating more than a million cigarette butts a year,” said Mark Thien, director of the nonprofit Water City, USA. “Considering the mall attracts over 14 million visitors annually, we’re really quite grateful to the Galleria’s leadership and interest in our program.”
Nearly half a million cigarette butts have been shipped under Water City USA’s lead. Interest in the program grows because it redirects sensitive workplace conversations about smoking toward inspiring discussions about recycling and community improvement.
The local project is made possible from a Tennessee Department of Transportation special litter grant. Water City USA is one of 15 community and non-profit groups to receive a grant for special litter pickup and prevention projects that might not happen through regular Litter Grants. 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.See Also: 18 Franklin Businesses Join Butt Free Campaign