The Downtown Ambassadors completed the installation of 100 new cigarette butt receptacles throughout Downtown Grand Rapids. The new receptacles significantly expand Downtown Grand Rapids Inc's effort to collect cigarette butts before they litter the sidewalk, wash into storm sewers and the Grand River, ultimately ending up on Great Lakes beaches.

The new bins, made possible by a grant from Keep America Beautiful, are located near Downtown bars, restaurants, transit stops and other high traffic smoking locations.

"With our initial 20 bins we collected approximately 1,000 cigarette butts per day," Downtown Ambassador Operations Manager Melvin Eledge said. "With 120 bins now on the street we anticipate that collection number will increase significantly, yielding cleaner streets for Downtown Grand Rapids and cleaner Great Lakes waterways and beaches for West Michigan."


Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) is the organization responsible for city building and place-management in the urban core of the City of Grand Rapids, MI. The Downtown Ambassadors - the dedicated team of dynamic and responsive professionals that keep Downtown clean, beautiful and friendly - is a signature DGRI program.

The Ambassadors introduced the cigarette waste recycling program to Downtown Grand Rapids in late 2016. The program collected approximately 173,000 cigarette butts, the remnants of 8,650 packets of cigarettes smoked, in its first seven months. Through a partnership with Terra Cycle, the collected cigarette butts are recycled into a variety of plastic products such as park benches, sunglasses and shipping pallets. Any remaining tobacco material is recycled as compost

Tobacco products, consisting mainly of cigarette butts, rank as the most littered item in America, representing nearly 38 percent of all litter, according to Litter in America, Keep America Beautiful's landmark study of litter and littering behavior.(PDF)

Cigarette butts in 2016 accounted for 35 percent of all litter removed from Grand Haven State Park, Grand Haven City Beach and North Beach - the beaches immediately north and south of the channel where the Grand River flows into Lake Michigan - according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach Program.

DGRI will regularly report the results of the expanded cigarette butt collection efforts via the Downtown Ambassadors monthly performance reports.