Unsightly piles of cigarette butts littering city streets has prompted a Halifax councillor to do something about it.

Coun. Tony Mancini has discovered a program adopted by Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver he thinks could work in Halifax.

"The municipality gets a lot of calls about litter. Cigarette butts are something that you see as a constant," explained Mancini. 

"A lot of people you see them flick out their cigarette as they're driving down the road or walking. And we're seeing them collect outside of restaurants and pubs, bus stops and anywhere that people gather," he added.

Case to recycle butts

The filters are non-biodegradable, which came as a surprise to Mancini.

"In the filter there's plastic. I'm not a smoker, so I didn't realize it. It takes a long time to break down," Mancini said. 

The accumulating toxic butts can pollute waterways, clog municipal storm drains or be ingested by children, dogs, cats, birds and marine animals.

Mancini is proposing Halifax adopt a cigarette butt recycling program.

Cost of program unclear

Smokers would be encouraged to toss their butts in bins strategically placed around the municipality.

The filters are then shipped off to a recycling plant, where the paper and tobacco are separated and composted and the plastic is used to make another product.

The cost of the containers and maintaining the program is not yet known.

Mancini wants the municipality to look into the initial investment costs and how effective the program has been in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. 

"From those whom I've spoken to, they've really embraced the idea of the concept because this is not an anti-smoking thing. We don't want those butts on the ground," said Mancini. 

Mancini intends to bring his idea to the municipality's environment committee Thursday. 

Citizens weigh in

There are some in Halifax who echo the enthusiasm for the cigarette recycling program. 

"I think it's probably a very good idea, as long as it doesn't cost too much. But I think maybe the cost of not doing it's probably just as bad," said George Walford.

Amanda Moniz sees the environmental benefits and would also like to see the city cleaned up. 

"I think it's a good idea. It's better than them just being thrown away into the landfill. I do actually notice them quite a bit, especially on the streets where people are flicking them. And if it's a populated area, it definitely adds up," said Moniz.

While Doug Harding would like to see the pilot project work in Halifax, he's quick to say he's not necessarily the person who needs convincing.

"Well it sounds really good to start out with. But you have to make sure that the smokers buy into it, because they're going to be the ones who are going to be putting it into the facility. So I'm a little skeptical in regards to that — whether you're going to get them to buy into it," said Harding.