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Mercyhurst nets grant to combat litter at Presque Isle

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mercyhurst University will be kicking butt at Presque Isle this summer, thanks to a new Keep America Beautiful grant intended to combat cigarette litter at the park.

Mercyhurst is among 37 grant recipients nationwide to receive monies from the 2017 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program. Mercyhurst’s allocation of $2,500 will go toward the purchase of cigarette collection canisters, which will be installed at the entrances to Beach 10 in May.

“My students and I will collect and count cigarette butts from the canisters one to two times per week May through October to assess their usage,” said biology lecturer Sarah Bennett. “The butts will then be delivered to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to be sent to a company called TerraCycle, which will recycle the cigarette butts into other materials.”

As annual participants in the Adopt-A-Beach cleanup, Mercyhurst students will also compare the number of cigarette butts picked up during Adopt-a-Beach cleanups, for which they have data back five years, to the number collected after the canisters are installed.

“Hopefully, the data will show a significant reduction in the number of cigarette butts being left on the beach,” Bennett said..

The remainder of the grant will be used for public education at the park to show people that cigarette butts do constitute a “litter” problem. As part of the initiative, Keep America Beautiful will also provide 600 pocket ashtrays to distributed to park visitors.

The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, now in its 15th year, is the nation’s largest program aimed at reducing cigarette litter. Communities that implemented the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program in 2016 realized an average 60 percent reduction in cigarette litter, an 8 percent increase over the 2015 results.

Keep America Beautiful has distributed nearly $3.3 million in grant funding since 2006 to support local implementation of the program in more than 1,700 communities. Grants fund implementations across the country in a variety of community settings including downtowns, roadways, beaches, parks, marinas, colleges/universities, tourist locations and at special-event locations.

For more information, visit PreventCigaretteLitter.org.