BLAKESLEE, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A new initiative by the Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority is aiming to curb litter in the area.

Keep Monroe County Beautiful: Live Without Litter was started after a litter study was done by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

“37 percent of litter on the highways and the roadways was cigarette butts,” Jim Lambert, Executive Director of the Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority, said.

Corissa Gehring also works for the Monroe County Waste Authority as a marketing and education specialist. She says she was shocked when she heard the new data.

“I thought it was unbelievable. And honestly, we did a couple of litter collections this past year from June to October and we picked up 15,000 cigarette butts. Because of this program, it really opened our eyes to focus on that. Like we had been picking them up, but we didn’t realize what a huge chunk it is,” Gehring said.

The initiative focuses on helping people find better places to dispose of their cigarette butts such as receptacles. Using grant money, the initiative has purchased receptacles to be given to the public.

There are three kinds – ones that can be placed in front of establishments, pocket collectors, and ones that can be put on signs or telephone poles.

If you are the recipient of a pocket cigarette butt collector, you will have to make a pledge online promising to live without litter.

“Just, you know, be cognizant of, you know, what you’re leaving behind. Make sure it makes its way into the proper bin whether it’s a trash can or an ash tray,” Gehring said.

Lambert says it’s a common misconception that cigarette butts decompose and therefore are not litter.

“The filters are made with plastic and it takes a very very long time for it to decompose,” Lambert said.

That makes the cigarette butts dangerous for the environment and wild animals.

“Fish and other wildlife, you know, think of it as food and they eat it. That makes them sick. We consume a whole lot of fish and that again turns and makes us sick,” Lambert said.

The receptacles therefore help protect all living things.

For those interested in getting a cigarette butt receptacle, you can do so by contacting the Monroe County Waste Authority.